Cornwall Council spends millions on school taxis

Taxi The council said a review was under way to see if there were ways of saving money

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Nearly £4m a year is being spent in Cornwall to transport school pupils in taxis, the BBC has learned.

Cornwall Council said it had a legal responsibility to fund the journeys of 1,189 children to school last year by taxi or cars at a cost of £17.33 per pupil per day.

It happens when a young person lives off the designated bus route, or if they have special needs.

Councillor Andrew Wallis said a spending review was under way.

Mr Wallis, the cabinet member for children, schools and families, said: "We have a duty to get children to school.

"If there are no buses and parents can't drive, we then have to look at alternative means to get to school.

"We are reviewing it, but at the end of the day we have to get the children to school."

A Freedom of Information request to the council showed it was spending £3.9m, about a third of its annual £12.4m school transport budget this year, for home to school and post-16 transport, on taxis and cars.

A spokeswoman said: "The council only uses taxis to transport children to and from school when there are no suitable alternatives available or because pupils require specific transport arrangements to meet their needs."

Currently, each local education authority draws up its own policy on school transport.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "Home to school transport is dealt with by local councils.

"We expect them to use taxis only where there are no other suitable alternatives available or where it is the cheapest option, such as in isolated rural areas."

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