Harrogate Informer

North Yorkshire holds special needs transport consultations

North Yorkshire County Council is holding a series of consultations on changes to its home to school transport policy for those with special educational needs or disabilities.

The consultations will continue through to late March.  They follow a decision by the county council’s Executive to consult on a number of options to secure savings and bring about a fair and sustainable service.

Unlike the majority of councils in England, North Yorkshire has continued to provide discretionary home to school transport for free for post 16 young people with special needs or disabilities.  However, as the county council faces the prospect of long term austerity, tough decisions lie ahead and it must find ways of making necessary savings while trying to minimise any negative impact on services.

So far, out of £152m the council has already saved, only 25 per cent has had an impact on frontline services to communities.  The vast majority of savings have come from back office and administration, staff and management posts, procurement changes and other general efficiencies.

However, with no significant relief in sight from central Government funding, the county council faces the prospect of having to save a further £43m from its revenue budget by 2019/20 with a total of £169.4m saved over the decade. This represents a reduction of 34 per cent in the council’s spending power at a time when demand for services is growing.

North Yorkshire is experiencing an increase in the numbers of special needs pupils requiring transport and increases in the distances that they need to travel; this is leading to rising costs. These increases are due to improvements in medical science, better recognition and changes to legislation which have all led to a significant increase in special needs pupils nationally.

Based on these current trends, transport in North Yorkshire will reach an annual cost of £30m by 2025, far beyond the current budget of £5m.

Proposals currently being consulted have the potential to secure savings of £2m a year.  They include removal of the free exemption for post 16 young people with special needs or disabilities. From September 2018, they would be required to pay for transport they currently access for free, bringing them into line with charges for mainstream pupils – charges which are still lower than many other councils in the country.

 



 

Cllr Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for home to school transport, said:

We are consulting on these proposals with reluctance. We are entering our eighth year of austerity and the decisions we have to take to meet financial challenges ahead get harder. We hope people will see that we are making every attempt to be fair, that we are consulting with parents, carers and families concerned for their views and that we continue to look for ways to protect the sustainability of this and other frontline services.

 

The options for consultation are:

 


 

Cllr Mulligan added:

For some families of statutory age children these proposals will offer real improvement. As well as making savings for the council, they will enable families to take control of their own home to school transport. They may also provide sufficient funding for families to acquire their own vehicle if they do not currently own a car.”

For more information about the consultations and to give views online people should go to:

https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/home-school-transport-including-children-and-young-people-send

 

Consultation timetable:

 

Meeting Venue Date Time Area
Public Lakeside, National Agri-Food Innovation Campus, Sandhutton, YO41 1LZ 31/01/2018 14:00-16:00 and 17:00-19:00 Selby/Ryedale
Public Sneaton Castle Centre, Whitby, YO21 3QN 02/02/2018 14:00-16:00 and 17:00-19:00 Whitby
Public The Esplanade Hotel, Belmont Road, YO11 2AA 06/02/2018 14:00-16:00 and 18:00-19:30 Scarborough
Public Cedar Court, Park Parade, HG1 5AH 21/02/2018 14:00-16:00 and 17:00-19:00 Harrogate
Public Forest and Vale, Pickering 08/03/2018 14:00-16:00 and 17:00-19:00 Ryedale
Public Herriott’s Hotel, Skipton, BD23 1RT 13/03/2018 14:00-16:00 and 17:00-19:00 Craven – Skipton
Public Richmondshire – tbc 16/03/2018 14:00-16:00 and 17:00-19:00 Richmondshire

 

Public Selby District Council, , Civic Centre, Doncaster Road, Selby YO8 9FT 23/03/2018 2pm to 4pm and 5pm to 7pm Selby

 

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