RORY LOBBYS MINISTER ON SCHOOL TRANSPORT PROVISION IN CUMBRIA
Rory Stewart MP has kept up the pressure in his on-going campaign to secure guaranteed and affordable school transport provision for students in Cumbria, by lobbying Education Minister David Laws to look further at the impact of government and council policy on Cumbrian families. Since the County Council announced at the start of the year that it would remove subsidies for school transport provision, the Penrith and the Border MP has raised the issue on several occasions with ministers in the Department of Education, Department for Transport and the No.10 Policy Unit to highlight the anger and frustration of many families in local rural communities who this Summer faced the possibility that their children would be unable to get to school by any means.
Over the Summer months, Rory worked with schools, parish councils, parents and bus companies to find last minute solutions that ensured students would have access to their local sixth form. Up until this year, the county council has guaranteed seats on a school bus for sixth-form students, but this year chose to remove guaranteed provision, in an effort to meet budget saving targets.
Rory Stewart said:
“Transport to and from school for our children should be something parents can take for granted. This Summer however, dozens of worried and rightfully angry parents have contacted my office, uncertain as to how the council expects their child to get to school. I am not convinced the government has properly ‘rural-proofed’ compulsory education up until 18, and I have stressed this repeatedly to ministers. At the same time however, this was a decision taken at county council level, and I don’t think local authorities fully considered the impact this would have on families in our rural communities. The problem will be even worse next year unless a solution is found, and I would urge county council to review this decision as a priority.”