Recent reports that Government officials are drawing up plans to relax the statutory duty on local councils to provide home-to-school transport mustn’t be seized upon by County Council.
Following the statement by the Education Secretary last week providing some details about how schools will fully reopen next September – reports have emerged that the Government may relax the responsibility for Local Educational Authorities to provide school transport for children.
These reports come amidst news that parents and pupils will also be told not to use public buses, trains and trams to travel to and from school.
Paul Hodgkinson, group leader for Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats, has subsequently written to Council Leader, Mark Hawthorne, for assurances that the County Council will not look to take advantage of such rules which would put the responsibility on parents to get their children to school – impossible for many as they return to work and hugely negative for the local environment.
Commenting, Paul Hodgkinson said:
“We all know the pressures that the County Council, coach operators and public transport operators have been put under by the pandemic– and it’s clear that such pressures will only be exacerbated if schools reopen fully in September as planned.
“However, the answer to such pressures cannot be for local authorities to wash their hands of the responsibility – particularly as they will be given the power to fine parents for any absences.
“I look forward to receiving a response from the council leadership confirming that they will not seek to relax their duty to get children to work and will instead support the struggling coach companies that have been badly hit by the pandemic.”