The problems and confusion caused by Cheshire West's decision to limit free school transport continue. Though the majority of Cheshire West' School children are unaffected, many pupils from Tarvin, Tattenhall, and Farndon are as they fall within a catchment area of a school that is not close enough for pupils to get free school transport.
Among the members of the public at the last Parish Council meeting (Aug 24th) were parents from Churton, another village where parents and pupils are affected by the policy change.
Letters received by the Parish Council from West Cheshire state very clearly that the move was done to future-proof spending. Only 2 schools remain for which Cheshire West is the admissions authority, all the others are academy or foundation schools. It is the ability of these schools to alter their catchment areas in the future that the Council fear could commit it to significant additional transport costs. Despite the change in political control of the Council, this policy will not be reversed.
The Council decided to set up a Mitigation Fund to assist parents and schools affected, but the workings of this do seem to be both complex and opaque. Some money has been given to Tarporley School and parents have been advised that they can apply to the mitigation fund directly.
A number of individual families have challenged the decision to remove their free transport, and a number of individual decisions have been reversed. It was hoped that the details of the Mitigation Fund would be in the public domain but it would appear that they are deemed to be of interest to parents and schools only, rather than the general public.
The Parish Council is angry that the decision taken seems to discriminate against parents and pupils in Tarvin. In order to mount a more co-ordinated response it was agreed that they would write to the Clerks of other affected parishes to see if any action could be taken. This would be in addition to responding to the letter from Cheshire West.