Mum condemns threat to free transport for St Joseph's Comprehensive pupils in Port Talbot
A MUM has spoken out against council moves to withdraw free buses for many pupils at Neath and Port Talbot's sole Catholic secondary school.
Anna Tobin said the proposal went against Welsh Government guidelines on parental choice and would create traffic chaos in the area around St Joseph's Comprehensive in Aberavon.
Neath Port Talbot is now consulting on whether to stop paying for transport for pupils living more than two or three miles from a voluntary aided (Catholic or Church in Wales) school if there is a mainstream school nearer their home.
The idea has been criticised by some councillors and by St Joseph's head teacher Eugene Scourfield, who said it smacked of religious discrimination.
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Mrs Tobin and husband Shaun send their 12-year-old son Joseph, who has cystic fibrosis, to St Joseph's.
She said Joseph had been well looked after, right from his nursery days.
"We thank the council for providing the Catholic community with free transport to the St Joseph's schools," she said.
"But withdrawing it may well have an impact on the numbers attending schools as it will come down to affordability on already squeezed household budgets."
Mrs Joseph said she felt particularly sorry for Aberavon residents.
"There may well be a few more hundred cars parking outside their homes, blocking driveways," she said. "Rather than paying the extra transport costs parents will just transport then to school themselves.
"This will only cause further pollution and increased traffic."
Mrs Tobin said some might argue that parents who wanted to send their children to a Catholic school should pay.
Her response was: "I pay income tax and council tax that is spent on many things I do not use or support. But anything relating to children's education should be untouchable as far as financial cuts are concerned.
"While free transport is discretionary the Welsh Government encourages councils to facilitate parental choice."
Education director Karl Napieralla said: "We would like to thank Anna Tobin for her comments. We will ensure these are considered as part of the consultation."