Free bus pass cuts warning to Silsden students

Students in Silsden could lose their free bus passes, town mayor Councillor Chris Atkinson has warned.

He fears youngsters who attend South Craven School and University Academy Keighley will in future have to pay for their travel.

He believes Silsden families are at risk due to proposed changes to Bradford Council’s school transport policy.

Coun Atkinson this week urged parents to respond to the council’s consultation about which groups should lose free school travel.

The council has revealed plans to reduce the number of children who qualify for assisted school transport in response to upcoming budget reductions of £89 million during the next two years.

A consultation to gain the views of parents, teachers, governors and other interested parties will run until February 13.

The council this week said despite cuts to a number of different groups, pupils who already receive free transport will not be affected.

Among the groups who could see the service withdrawn are children aged two to five with special educational needs; pupils who attend certain schools because of their faith; pupils whose parents have moved home, but decided to keep them at the original school; and pupils who attend a school beyond the statutory walking distance from their home.

Coun Atkinson, along with district and town councillor Adrian Naylor, claims many Silsden youngsters could be affected because they attend secondary schools beyond the statutory walking distance of two miles.

These include University Academy Keighley, South Craven School in Cross Hills and Ilkley Grammar School.

Coun Atkinson described Bradford’s proposal as a “worrying development” for children in rural communities.

He said: “There are no secondary schools within walking distance for most of these communities, and very often no direct public transport.

“The consultation is aimed at individual needs, and residents’ points are required for Bradford to be forced to give a proper understanding of our unique needs.”

Coun Atkinson plans to talk with headteachers of the schools affected to ensure parents know of the implications.

Visit bradford.gov.uk/bmdc/consultations or e-mail paul.hart@bradford.gov.uk to view consultation documents.

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