More time to have your say on plans to axe free school buses in Hull
A CONSULTATION into controversial plans to axe free school buses has been extended.
Hull City Council launched the consultation in January.
It wants to save money by removing free travel for all or some of those pupils who are not legally entitled to it.
But the move has angered parents and headteachers across the city who say taking away the free travel will only damage education.
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They also say it would push parents already struggling financially onto the poverty line as well as potentially see about 1,000 youngsters fed into the public transport system.
Ged Fitzpatrick, head at St Mary's College in north Hull, has been vocal in his opposition to the plans.
The school has set up a Twitter campaign urging parents to have their say, including writing to local councillors and MPs.
Parents are encouraged to follow @SMChull to show their support.
Mr Fitzpatrick also criticised the council for seemingly having no option in the consultation to leave things how they are.
He said: "This will impact normal working families and that is wrong.
"One parent said the council gave her no choice where she lived and now she feels they are telling her she will have no choice where she sends her child to school.
"She works five days a week as a single mum and if she has to pay a bus fair, she won't be able to."
Following concerns about there not being a "do nothing" option in the consultation, a Hull City Council spokesman said: "Some respondents have also expressed an opinion in regards to a do nothing option as part of the consultation.
"We want to make it clear this is a valid response and if someone wants to feed this view into the consultation then they can do.
"To do this via the online form, respondents can select 'none of the options' and/or use the comments box to express their opinion."
Parents now have until April 10 to take part in the consultation.
The city council decided to extend the consultation after parents felt they were not fully aware of the policies regarding free transport.
The spokesman said: "We've been really pleased with the number of responses and quality of debate that the consultation has so far generated, whether through the public consultation events, the website, by mail or email.
"One thing that has come out of the consultation is parents, carers and other interested parties would like more information about home to school transport provision, giving them a better context to the consultation and so helping them to provide more informed input.
"This is helpful feedback and, as a result, we have provided some additional information on our website at www.hullcc.gov.uk/consultations
"We have decided to extend the consultation so that everyone has the opportunity to consider this additional information and respond if they want to."
The report will now be presented to cabinet on May 20. It will also be reviewed by the overview and scrutiny commission.
Both the cabinet and scrutiny commission meetings are open to the public.