Council lobbied by faith schools

MORE than 50 teachers, pupils and supporters crammed into Weston s Town Hall on Tuesday night to oppose plans to phase out free transport for faith schools.

MORE than 50 teachers, pupils and supporters crammed into Weston's Town Hall on Tuesday night to oppose plans to phase out free transport for faith schools.

North Somerset Council is considering axing the service as part of savings aimed at reducing a £17million gap in its budget over the next two years.

Before a full council meeting, pupils from Corpus Christi School in Weston and St Bede's Catholic College in Bristol stood outside the chambers bearing placards which read: 'Save our Transport'.

Justin Templer, a member of the children and young people's services scrutiny panel, Catherine Hughes, the principal of St Bede's and a representative of the Clifton Diocese all spoke against the phased withdrawal.


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Mr Templer, who has accused the Tory administration of 'reneging on an election promise', said: "You can either say to yourselves 'we will support the executive at all costs, in which case you will be confirming the widely held view in the faith community, that your party cannot be trusted, because you have used deception to gain power. Or you can say to your leaders 'think again'."

There are 157 children from North Somerset who go to St Bede's.

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Currently 253 pupils get free transport to a faith school, such as Corpus Christi in Weston, which costs £261,000 per year.

Executive member for special projects, Peter Bryant, who is leading the review into faith transport, said he wants to address the inequality of providing free transport for only 253 out of 28,000 school pupils across North Somerset.

Parents, teachers and school governors are being asked their views on the plans to scrap free transport for faith school pupils.

Once the consultation period has ended on December 6, councillors will decide whether to start phasing out the free transport in September next year.

People can email their views to cyps.consultations@n-somerset.gov.uk, complete the online questionnaire at www.consult.n-somerset.gov.uk or call 01275 884078.

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