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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

School Transport

I have posted elsewhere on this site my reaction to the Labour Government's draft bill, which proposes to charge for school transport. I was gratified therefore to receive this unsolicited e-mail from a Mr. Roland Cleaver in Swansea. He writes:

I was irritated to read of the proposal to withdraw/charge for school buses. Thus my twopenny's worth heads your way.

We're supposed to have green policies to reduce car use, but this encourages one of the worst kinds of short trip: Choke out; "cat" not yet up to temperature; congestion and idling. This is aside from the hassle to local residents who can't get out of their drives and whose verges are churned up like a battlefield.

"Tackling congestion caused by the school run and encouraging safe and sustainable transport alternatives are vital if we are to get the roads moving more freely at peak times." Alistair Darling

We've just had the school holidays and it is amazing how much quicker it is to get through Treboeth; Llangefelach and Johnstown. Why do we have all these Park-and-Ride schemes, yet potentially no school buses? Some councils are actually buying American-style yellow schoolbuses and say it makes sense. see: http://www.dft.gov.uk/local-transport/schooltravel

Now I'm sure New Labour will trot out the same kind of funding arguments as on HE fees, but if we'd wanted a Tory-style market solution we'd have voted for the b***ards.

There are plenty of people who have to get by at just above the threshold for free school meals; glasses; prescriptions etc. and for whom a daily charge is going to be a most unwelcome extra burden, so this is introducing another passport benefit trap, contrary to New Labour's social inclusion policy, (half of it nicked from the Liberals if I recall right). I don't mind a graduated means-related subsidy, but not all or nothing, especially when a lot of the benefit is to the common good, (environment; school-adjacent residents; other road users).

Rant over. People used to laugh when I said the YLs were to the left of Labour, now almost anyone is.

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