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Approved: Transport costs set to rise for Shropshire students

By Aimee Jones | Politics | Published:

Some of Shropshire's poorest sixth form and college students will have to fork out hundreds of extra pounds for their transport after a council proposal was approved.

Shropshire Council's cabinet has agreed to the plans, which will see the lowest band of yearly contributions towards post-16 transport costs rise from £142.50 to £280.

Members also moved the recommendations to start charging students with special educational needs (SEN) for their post-16 transport, under the same banding system.

A report that went before cabinet yesterday said it will ensure a consistent approach across all post-16 transport while reflecting the practice in a number of other councils.

The changes have been driven by a proposal to cut £717,000 from the authority’s school transport budget, due to overall financial pressure on the council.

Councillor Roger Evans, leader of the council's Lib Dems, said the amount of savings being proposed was too high.

"This is going to mean some of the poorest children and their parents, who are already on a low income, are going to have to find hundreds of extra pounds," he said.

"And for students who have a disability and need to go to Severndale, it's going to be a whopping amount of money to find too.

"Politics aside, should the council really be doing that?"

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Dropped

A proposal had also been included in the original plans which would have seen all financial transport support for nursery children with special education needs cut, but that idea was dropped from the final recommendations.

Councillor Ed Potter, cabinet member for children's services, said the council listened to concerns about the original proposals.

There are 361 families that are currently in receipt of the services and 33 responded to the consultation.

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Their concerns included equality and discrimination, social isolation, and a significant negative impact on the ability of disabled students to access education.

"We went through an initial consultation and the report came back with a number of recommendations, but we received a large amount of public responses," Councillor Potter said.

"These are difficult decisions to make and I appreciate that not everyone is going to be happy, but we are going to make less savings than were originally recommended."

He confirmed the changes, which are due to come into effect from September 1, will not affect students who are currently receiving the support under the existing scheme.

Aimee Jones

By Aimee Jones
@aimeejones_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Shrewsbury office, covering Shrewsbury, North Shropshire and South Shropshire.

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