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Neath Port Talbot Council must not limit parent choice says Assembly Member

January 23, 2013 3:02 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has expressed concern at Neath Port Talbot Council's proposal to scrap free bus travel for pupils at church schools in the area.

The Council has announced their intention to stop free travel for children living over the statutory distance and who attend church schools in Neath Port Talbot.

Mr. Black said, "This decision could limit the choice that every parent should have over which school their child attends. I am worried that this could be the thin end of the wedge and will set a dangerous precedent. The next logical choice for a cut of this kind is Welsh medium education, which also draws pupils from a wide area. I am aware that the Council need to save money but it must not be at the expense of parental choice"

"Neath Port Talbot's Labour Council currently charge £260 a year for each child who uses a school bus but is not eligible for free transport. If this proposal is passed, then many parents who want their children to go to a church school will now have to pay that charge. This amounts to a tax on choice and discriminates against those who wish their child to be educated in accordance with their faith.

"The potential for such a cut was highlighted by the Welsh Liberal Democrats when the Assembly's travel to work measure was passed. We tabled amendments designed to protect parental choice and guarantee travel for those opting to send their children to religious schools. However the then Labour/ Plaid Cymru Government voted our amendments down. Now we are seeing the consequences of that vote."