School bus escorts could be axed in Neath and Port Talbot
SCHOOL bus escorts in Neath and Port Talbot could be axed unless they are deemed vital for safety.
Education chiefs are putting the idea forward as one of a series of home-school transport changes designed to help the authority meet a massive budget shortfall over the next few years.
It's likely the escorts, or passenger assistants as they are now called, will continue on the vast majority of buses used by children with special educational needs (SEN).
However, those on the primary school run will only be retained if assessment shows there is a need for them based on risk.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Head of resources and commissioning Andrew Thomas said: "We provide passenger assistants mainly on SEN and primary school routes.
"We have no requirement to do that. Half of the authorities in Wales don't provide it. We do. But what we are proposing is to any provide passenger assistants where we think there is a need to provide them.
"Each route will be risk assessed. If we think there is a need to continue them, then we will. Where we think they should be done away with, we will, but not before September, 2014."
Neath Port Talbot is already considering ending free transport for many children attending faith schools such as St Joseph's RC Comprehensive in Port Talbot.
It is also proposing a bus charge of £270 a year for transport-eligible students at Neath Port Talbot College, who currently pay £100 a year, and for sixth form pupils, who currently get free transport.
All three proposals will be the subject of public consultation, starting on Monday and lasting five weeks.
Mr Thomas added: "The vast majority of SEN routes will continue to have assistants because of the obvious dangers.
"But there are some where we think they can be removed over time."