Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council is seeking public opinion on its plans to change the current transport provision for students over the age of 16.
Pupils are currently transported to and from the following schools/colleges: Coleg Y Cymoedd (Aberdare, Ystrad Mynach and Nantgarw), Bridgend College, The College Merthyr Tydfil, Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, Lewis School Pengam, Lewis Girls Comprehensive School, Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni, St John’s Baptist Church in Wales and Cardinal Newman Roman Catholic School.
The authority has no statutory duty to provide free transport for this age group, and it currently costs £189,751 annually. With the Council having to find £8.8 million savings over the next two years, a number of options are being considered for the future of the service. These are:
“The provision of free post-16 transport is a discretionary service,” said Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council Cabinet Member for Learning Cllr Lisa Mytton. “We’ve no statutory duty to provide free transport to any post-16 students continuing their studies in mainstream, further education or training - whether that’s within or outside the county borough.
“As a result of ongoing austerity measures, we’ve seen a reduction in its core budget for 2018/19, with further cuts expected in the coming years. That means – unfortunately – we have to look at every way possible of spending less money.”
The Council’s 2017/18 Home To School Transport Policy states that students aged 16, 17 or 18 years on 1 September, and are attending a first course of full time study at a college/school, may be entitled to free travel if they have to travel at least three miles in each direction and the venue is the nearest appropriate post-16 provider.
Students, parents/carers, schools/colleges, Merthyr Tydfil residents and other stakeholders are being asked to share their views on the options in an extensive consultation exercise including an online questionnaire and a series of drop-in events being held across the county borough.
The consultation period will run for 12 weeks from 22nd January to 16th April, 2018.
The drop-in consultation events calendar is as follows:
Secondary schools are also being asked to contribute the view of pupils via their school councils or other appropriate forum.
All stakeholders will be able to contribute to the consultation online via the CwmTaf Consultation hub at www.cwmtafhub.co.uk and www.merthyr.gov.uk Alternatively paper copies of the consultation can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org