Beds, Herts & Bucks

Hertfordshire County Council 'saving' on school transport

A council that spent more than £15m on taxis to take pupils to school said it has now made "significant savings".

Hertfordshire County Council spent the money in the 2011/2012 school year.

It said 80% of the figure was spent on those with Special Educational Needs (SEN) but it now provided transport only where legally obliged to.

The council is committed to providing free transport for children with SEN and mainstream pupils who live a certain distance from their school.

This is currently if the journey to their nearest, or designated, school is more than two miles for children under eight, or three miles for the over eights.

'Quite creative'

Councillor Terry Douris said: "Since [September 2012] we have started a policy of only providing school transport to those with a statutory entitlement to it and have saved £8m.

"We hope to save another £2m in the 2014/15 year."

Mr Douris added that the council had been "quite creative" in the type of vehicle it used and how many children were transported at any one time.

"Some will go by taxis and some use minibuses but the vehicle chosen is appropriate to the needs of the area," he said.

"We are also looking for the most cost effective means so sometimes, rather than buying taxis we have bought seats on buses so children can go by public transport.

"We also sometimes have common pick-up points rather than door-to-door taxi provision."

Ben Bardsley, from the Harpenden Parents Group, said: "I feel that the council have been slow off the mark in getting adequate places in schools that are local to where children live and as a result there has been an increase in the number of children who have been allocated schools that are not one of their preferences."

Councillor Douris said the council had "a very active policy" on developing schools and increasing school sizes so parents could get children into schools closer to their homes.

"It is possible that this could bring down the costs further in the next couple of years," he said.

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