Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has agreed proposals to cease funding bus services that do not carry pupils entitled to transport assistance.
At the meeting held today (Thursday 11 July), the main recommendations agreed by Cabinet were:
• To cease funding for bus services where there have been no students entitled to free home to school transport or school transport assistance travelling for two years and where the revenue from fares and season tickets does not cover the cost of the service.
• That county council officers work with schools and bus operators affected to establish whether arrangements can be made to provide these bus services in future at no cost to the council.
Councils are required to provide free home to school transport for some students, and normally this is done by operating a school bus. Where there are seats available, other students can use the bus by buying a season ticket or paying a fare.
Services will be affected from September 2020, to give schools and parents a full academic year’s notice before funding is removed.
The council will carry out a review of which services are affected every year.
A six-week consultation ran about this proposal from Monday 14 February to Monday 8 April, 2019. The outcome of the responses to the consultation were carefully considered before the final decision was made.
County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said:” This is another very tough decision.
“It is essential that as a council we balance the books, and the cabinet did consider all the responses very carefully before making a decision.
“Now that the decision has been made, we’ve allowed a full academic year so that schools, parents and carers can put arrangements in place.
“We will also use this time to work with schools and bus operators affected to establish whether arrangements can be made to provide these bus services in future at no cost to the council.
“We remain committed to providing the best services we can to the people of Lancashire, and particularly to protecting services for the most vulnerable in our communities.”
At the meeting of full council held in February, councillors approved a package of measures to reduce an anticipated deficit at the council to £46m by 2022/23.