Cheshire East school pupils facing loss of free transport
CHILDREN could be forced off free buses under a rethink of school routes.
But others could gain the right to free transport as officials take a fresh look at more than 100 routes – some of which have been unchanged for 25 years.
Primary school children who live more than two miles from their nearest school are entitled to free transport. The distance rises to three miles for secondary school children.
Now Cheshire East Council has ordered a review after ruling members heard improvements such as pedestrian crossings and town centre bypasses had made walking to school safer.
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Cabinet member in charge of the environment Councillor Rod Menlove said walking had been forgotten as driving children to school or placing them on a bus had 'become the norm'.
He added: "There are some things that we, as a council, cannot continue to fund in these challenging economic times. Subsidising school transport when there are reasonable alternatives would not be in council tax payers' best interests.
"The assessments will be very thorough and we will be working with local members where necessary to ensure that community concerns are taken into account."
Councillor Menlove said the review would also bring health benefits by identifying many safe cycling and walking routes – and reveal some that are now unsafe.
"Walking not only provides vital exercise, it also facil- itates time to talk to young people about school," he said, adding that the council would work closely with schools to highlight any walking routes that may become available.