Councillor Simon Reed executive member for infrastructure and environment today announced plans for discussions on transport arrangements with St Benet Biscop RC High School.
Transport arrangements and traffic issues raised by local residents and by local councillor George Todd will be addressed at a meeting with the school in the near future.
Wider issues around policy on eligible school transport will be referred to the Scrutiny Chairmen’s Group.
Councillor Reed said:
“We recognise the concerns expressed by some parents which are an unintended consequence of a routine review of school transport arrangements. We will be talking to St Benet Biscop School to explore the possibility of working together on alternative transport arrangements for both eligible and no-eligible children, to begin in January.
“Any revised arrangements must comply with council policy on the circumstances whereby children can qualify for free transport – which is normally based on distance from school, but also includes faith or low income.”
There is no legal obligation to provide transport, free or otherwise, to children whose parents elect to send them to other than the nearest available school, whether on faith or other grounds, excepting in the case of low income families.
Under discretionary powers, current Northumberland County Council policy is to provide free transport to Roman Catholic children attending St Benet Biscop, but only if they live more than three miles from the school. No non-Catholics are provided with free transport to the school, irrespective of how far they are from the school, as they are not eligible under the Council’s Home to School Transport policy.