Students at Guilsborough Academy could lose free transport as Northamptonshire council proposes changes
and live on Freeview channel 276
West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) is proposing to increase non-entitled school bus seat fares to £1,000.
On Friday, March 31, WNC revealed plans for its new Home to School Transport service.
In the Home to School Transport Consultation 2023, the council said they have been providing home-to-school transport beyond their statutory duties.
Councilor Phil Larratt, Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport, Highways and Waste, said: “The current Home to School Transport fees and policies have not been reviewed for over a decade and we are aware that we are no longer consistent with other similar local authorities in terms of the support for travel assistance that is available”.
Simon Frazer, principal of Guilsborough Academy said: “This proposal, if adopted by the Local Authority, has the potential to have a massive impact on the community we currently serve as well as the future of Guilsborough Academy.”
The council’s proposals consider changes to children's access to travel assistance and a rise in costs from £600 to £1,000 for non-entitled children’s bus pass starting in September 2024.
WNC plans to implement a new 'Spare Seat Scheme', a tiered system in which some students are prioritised over others, resulting in some students being treated on a first come, first served basis.
“According to the Local Authorities own information, more than 25 percent of the students currently attending Guilsborough reside in an area which would no longer be provided with free transport.
“In addition, those who wished to purchase a bus pass are facing a 67 percent increase in the costs from £600 to £1,000, and there is no guarantee they would be provided with one,” said Mr Frazer.
Under these plans, families needing free transport will have to send their children to the nearest schools from their home addresses.
“For families living in those areas who already have children at Guilsborough, they may be faced with the challenge of transporting younger children to a different school,” said Mr Frazer.
On May 26, Mr Frazer sent an email letter to all parents and carers who take their children to the Guilsborough school.
The principal communicated the significant impact these proposals can have on the community, particularly on the families from Long Buckby who send their children to Guilsborough.
It is highly likely, under these proposals, that residents of Long Buckby are more likely to receive free transport to the Danetre And Southbrook Learning Village rather than Guilsborough.
The pupils would lose their entitlement to free transport and would be required to pay for a seat under the non-entitled arrangement.
The availability of non-entitled seats would be significantly reduced, forcing families to arrange their transportation to and from the school.
The WNC’s first Home to School Transport service changes planned in a decade were up for public consultation for two months until midnight on Tuesday, May 30 2023.
“We shared the proposal with our community and encouraged them to respond prior to the deadline given,” said Mr Frazer.
The community was invited to have a say on the proposed changes via the council’s consultation hub and at the drop-in events at the council’s offices.
A West Northamptonshire Council spokeswoman said: “Following the closure of the Home to School Transport Consultation, which took place from March 30 to May 31, all responses will be collated, summarised and considered in order to help shape decisions by the council on the proposed changes.”
“While those already attending Guilsborough may not be adversely affected, those attending from September 2024 would be,” said Mr Frazer.
West Northamptonshire Council spokeswoman added: “The findings of the consultation will be published and presented at an upcoming Cabinet meeting which is currently scheduled for July 11, 2023. Details of the report and cabinet meeting will be available for residents to view on our website.”