Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has complained to Schools Minister David Laws about changes to Lancashire County Council’s funding policy for school transport.
The county has decided to increase the contribution parents have to pay to send their children to faith schools and will only meet costs where the school is over three miles if it is the nearest available school.
Mr Evans said that some residents whose nearest school is St Augustine’s in Billington have been told that transport will only be funded if their children attend there, despite the fact that it is a Catholic school with strict entrance requirements – and is always over-subscribed.
He said: “The new funding structure set up by Lancashire County Council will mean that the local authority will fund transport to the nearest school, which could be a faith school or one within a different local education authority. There are only a limited number of LEA schools in the Ribble Valley and the structure strikes me as an attempt to save money at the expense of those in rural areas. “
The MP claimed: “ It is a long-held accepted principle that, in the main, children attend a school within their borough, but the new school transport funding structure being set by Lancashire County Council will penalise those living in the Ribble Valley local authority area, and particularly those in its southern wards. It should not be the case that parents are having any element of choice removed, unless they stump up extra hundreds of pounds a year to cover transport costs.”