Wiltshire

Swindon council to drop faith school bus subsidy

Free school bus travel for children going to a faith school in Swindon is to be withdrawn.

Conservative-led Swindon Borough Council said it was spending £230,000 per year on providing the service.

Councillors said as part of cost-cutting measures it was recommended the service is stopped entirely by September 2012.

At present the benefit is extended to approximately 160 secondary and 40 primary school pupils.

'Community cohesion'

At a meeting on Wednesday evening councillors voted to withdraw the subsidy on a phased basis up to September 2012.

Maureen Harries, head teacher of St Joseph's Catholic College, said the school was "very disappointed" at the news.

"We think this will disadvantage some of our parents if they have to pay.

"Community cohesion is at the heart of council and government's agenda and it is going to impact on that.

"We are going to say to some students from certain parts of the town who can't afford to come to us that they won't be able to come."

Councillor David Renard, who is responsible for education and children's services, said cutting faith school buses was something a lot of councils were looking at.

"Yesterday [Wednesday] Gloucestershire County Council took the same decision.

"Any child from a family in financial hardship will still be able to apply for free transport," he added.

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