Have your say over plans to change home to school transport in Central Bedfordshire

Deadline for feedback is April 3
File image of the inside of a bus.File image of the inside of a bus.
File image of the inside of a bus.

Have your say over planned changes to home to school transport in Central Bedfordshire as the council considers to policy changes.

The council wants to hear from people – especially parents and carers of children – over key changes, including changing the system parents use to apply for transport from a school’s catchment area to the student’s nearest school.

It also plans to develop an ‘independent travel training scheme’ for children and young people with SEND, to help those who can develop the necessary skills and knowledge to travel independently and provide parents or carers with peace of mind that they are travelling safely.

The council is proposing changes to two of its policies – for all children of compulsory school age, including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) or other mobility difficulties, and its policy for Young People aged 16-19.

It says both policies have been reviewed and amended to make them clear, and easy to understand and ensure they are aligned with the Department for Education’s (DfE) revised guidance, published in June 2023.

The council says the changes will help curb the increasing cost of school transport – been cited as one of the pressures on the council’s budget,which is a multi-million pound shortfall.

Every day the council transports around 6,500 children on around 750 routes, and is predicted to have spent 19 million on school transport this year. T

Cllr Hayley Whitaker, executive member for families, education and children, said: “We have listened to feedback from parents and carers when amending the policies, and our goal is to create policies that are straightforward and clear.

“We are currently considering increasing council tax and making changes to some services, like charging for collecting garden waste to meet the financial pressures caused by increasing costs in adult social care and school transport. Some of the proposed changes to our policies will reduce costs for the council but continue to provide school transport to those who need it.

“We understand how crucial home to school transport is for families in our communities, which is why we're asking parents, carers, and others to share their thoughts on the proposed changes.”

If the policy changes are agreed, the council will honour existing commitments for transport, and changes will not affect current students entitled to school transport.

Instead, the changes would apply to all new applications and would be effective for in-year school applications from the start of 2024/25 academic year and at the start of the 2025/26 academic year for new compulsory school transport applications and post-16 transport applications.

You can have your say online here. The deadline is Wednesday, April 3.

Engagement events are being held where people can find out more on:

Thursday, February 29, 11am to 1pm, Room 3, Leighton Buzzard Library, Lake Street, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 1RX

Tuesday, March 5, 4.30pm to 6.30pm, Marston Moreteyne Community Centre, Great Linns, Marston Moreteyne, MK43 0DD

Tuesday, March 12, 6pm to 8pm, Shefford Community Hall, 60 High Street, Shefford, SG17 5AX

Tuesday, March 19, 1pm to 2pm, online via Microsoft Teams (to register, email [email protected])

Wednesday, March 27, 3.30pm to 5.30pm, Westoning Village Hall, 34 Church Road, Westoning, MK45 5JL