Transport cuts are “attack on faith and education”

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The headteacher of Cardinal Newman School spoke emotionally about the impact the council’s withdrawal of denominational transport will have on their Catholic school, at the council executive committee meeting last night (November 22).

Despite headteacher Jane Crow’s plea, the executive approved the consultation on withdrawal of funding for non-statutory school and college transport policies, which will see Cardinal Newman lose £403,848 of transport funding.

Mrs Crow said many of the parents could not afford to pay for buses, and said withdrawal of funding could result in the “slow death of the school”.

The school’s students come from across the town including Farley, Limbury and Saints wards, and of the 850 who get the bus to school, 600 come from over three miles away.

When the school was built in 1968, the local authority insisted on the current location of the site and promised to continue to pay for transport.

Mrs Crow said the school does not get any funding from the Diocese, and currently parents are expected to sub costs, but many of them would not be able to afford bus fares of £470 per child each year.

She said: “This will be seen as an attack on education and on faith.”

She also quoted a letter from Council Leader Hazel Simmons in 2005 in which she promised to protect transport funding.

Councillor Simmons said: “We are in a very different field now than we were in 2005. We have to save £48 million and there cannot be anything in our budget that isn’t looked at. We will look at everything.”

Councillor Tom Shaw said: “We are dealing with a government that couldn’t care less about the working class kids we are talking about. They took away EMA, but they can spend billions on academy organisations in this town. They should have carried on with building schools for the future but they just cut it all.”

Funding for the post-16 saver card scheme, post-16 transport for special needs students and transport for pre-school students with special needs are also at risk.

The proposals will now go for consultation.