The leader of Herefordshire Council has met with group leaders to consider the implementation of the school transport policy.
Councillor Tony Johnson (Conservative) met with Councillor Sebastian Bowen (Independent) and Councillor Anthony Powers (It’s Our County) on 14 February to discuss the confusion amongst councillors and the public following a school transport budget amendment, which was proposed at the full council meeting on 7 February.
The three leaders have taken collective responsibility for the confusion, elements of which appear to have arisen following conversations between group leaders and council officers, which resulted in many councillors believing that the present funding arrangements for school transport would continue until September 2015.
Councillor Tony Johnson, leader of Herefordshire Council, said: “To resolve this issue and ensure we are providing the necessary support to parents and schools, which we had all intended, we will recommend to cabinet that the implementation of the school transport policy be deferred for a period of 12 months and introduced in September 2015. As such, cabinet will need to make provision in the 2015/16 budget to cover the additional costs this will generate.
“It is important to stress that the budget amendment as voted on would have had the same effect via the transition fund.”
He continued: “This means the current policy will remain in place until September 2015, which will provide parents and schools 18 months to make alternative arrangements from this date and beyond. The council will in the meantime continue its commitment of working towards integrated commissioning of all public transport.
“When the new policy is implemented in September 2015, it will be as per the policy agreed by cabinet in December 2013.”
He concluded: “Councillor Terry James (Liberal Democrats) was not available for the group leader’s discussion on Friday 14 February.”
As a result of the deferment, the proposed transition fund will now not come into effect.
To find out about the policy, please visit December’s cabinet agenda page.