People are being encouraged to give their views on proposed changes to the Council’s Home to School Transport services across West Northamptonshire.
West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) today launches a two-month consultation inviting residents to share their views on proposed changes to the service for children up to the age of 16.
The review of the service is the first to take place in a decade and seeks to ensure it is delivered in line with other local councils and at a reasonable cost, by tackling challenges including a significant increase in demand from users and rising operating costs caused by high fuel prices and inflation. It also explores opportunities for a more flexible, environmentally friendly service that increases choices for parents and better supports the independence of young people.
Key proposals include reviewing the non-entitled transport scheme, which currently enables parents to pay for seats on Council-run school bus services for children not eligible for free places. The existing cost of a seat is £600 which has not been reviewed or increased for over 10 years and it is proposed that this will increase to £1000 from September 2024. This will bring the cost in line with other local authorities and better reflect the actual cost of providing a seat. Other proposed changes to the scheme include only offering seats if spare capacity is available on existing contracted services.
All proposals being put forward would apply from September next year and only affect those applying for a bus place from this period and beyond. The consultation does not cover Home to School Transport policies for students aged 16 and over, which will be reviewed later this year, following a fuller review of all bus services.
The consultation starts today (Friday 31 March) and runs until midnight on Tuesday 30 May, with residents encouraged to take part via the Council’s consultation hub. Children and young people and their parents and carers will also have an opportunity to have their say at three drop-in events after school hours at the Council’s offices in Northampton (2 May),Towcester (4 May) and Daventry (TBC).
“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.Cllr Phil Larratt, Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport, Highways and Waste
“This is in addition to increasing demand for Home to School Transport for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, and other special transport requirements in addition to increasing transport costs caused by rising fuel prices, wages and inflation which have resulted in increased contract prices.
“It is really important that we listen to and carefully consider the views of parents, carers, and children and young people who may be affected by these proposals so we can ensure the service continues to meet the needs of our community, so I would encourage people to take part in this consultation and get involved.”
The findings of the consultation will be published and presented to WNC’s Cabinet later this year. Feedback will help to inform any decision by the Council on the proposed changes to the Home to School Transport policy and how transport assistance is delivered.
The consultation will last eight weeks and residents can take part in the following ways:
- Complete the online survey
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Write to: Home to School Transport Consultation 2023, West Northamptonshire Council, The Guildhall, St Giles' Square, Northampton NN1 1DE
Attend one of the following drop-in events:
- 4 May, from 4pm to 7pm, in the Council Chamber, The Forum, West Northamptonshire Council, Towcester Office
- 2 May, from 4pm to 7pm, in the Jeffrey Room, Guildhall, Northampton
- Daventry, date and location TBC
For more information on Home to School Transport please visit the School travel assistance webpage.