There were lots of members of the public at the last Parish Council meeting and the main subject that brought them there was the issue of the proposed changes to school transport. The changes would mean that children attending Tarporley High School would NOT receive free transport from 2015 (excluding existing pupils). The Parish Council is at one with local parents in their objection to this change.
The new policy was considered by CW&C's Executive Committee on March 13th and was then referred to the Education Scrutiny Committee for further discussion on April 14th. Borough Councillor Deynem spoke of his objection to the proposals but felt that any changes to the proposals would most likely be to the size and working of the Mitigation Fund rather than to the policy itself.
Councillor Deynam indicated that the pressure for the changes came from the changes in the relationship between Academy School and Free Schools and the local authority. The Borough Council were concerned that these schools, which have the ability to overturn and redraw 'catchment areas' would create unsustainable economic pressures from the need to bus children over the whole county. The Borough Council seem determined to ensure that they provide only the statutory minimum service required and remove all elements of discretion from the policy, even though these make sense educationally and geographically. If this is the case, then the arguments have been given little emphasis and do not appear to be sufficient reason to ride roughshod over the wishes of local people. Certainly the proposed new policy does not appear to save much money and the act of sending children to sit in traffic queues towards Chester during the morning rush hour hardly seems to tick any environmental boxes either.
Many parents with children currently at Tarporley will want younger siblings to join them and this felt like an extra tax on Tarvin people, , as one resident eloquently put it. The fact that 2015 is an election year was stressed with some force on a couple of occasions.
After some discussion it was agreed that the Parish Council would:
Ask the Chairman, Councillor Lush, to attend the Education Scrutiny Meeting to make the local viewpoint known
Talk to the other parishes affected by this change (Saughall, Tattenhall, Farndon and Churton) to see if a co-ordinated response could be developed.
Work with local parents, the Primary School and Tarporley High School to develop joint strategies where possible.
Continue to encourage individuals to lobby local and national politicians to express their views about the change.