Parents fight funding cuts to school bus costs

By Jonathan Kalmus, September 6, 2012

Parents in south Manchester are faced with a £3,000 travel bill after a local council introduced transport funding cuts for faith schools.

Parents and governors of North Cheshire Jewish Primary, one of the top performers in the country, are fighting to reverse the cut by Trafford Council, which came into effect this week. The council had offered funding for a coach service for pupils of faith schools who live over two miles from their school, but slashed the subsidy as part of its budget cuts programme.

Around 70 Jewish children relied on the funding to transport them six miles from Altrincham and Hale to North Cheshire’s Cheadle campus. The primary — the only Jewish school in south Manchester — has been forced to introduce a private coach service, which costs £1,000 per child annually, and is hoping to contribute £100 to reduce the cost.

But parent Jacqueline Cohen, who has a child at the school, has been campaigning against the cut. She said families are struggling with the new travel costs. “I can’t afford £900 but I am paying it because I am looking for full-time work and would be in an impossible situation without the bus.”

School governor Andrew Joseph has vowed to fight the decision through a council appeals process. He said: “For families that have three children £3,000 costs are virtually prohibitive. If they want a school with kosher food, a Jewish education and Jewish holidays, they don’t have a choice.”

Local MP Graham Brady has offered his support. “I am concerned that Trafford parents with children at North Cheshire Jewish are facing unreasonable costs for school transport. I have met parents who are doing everything possible to arrange an affordable bus service. I have asked Transport for Greater Manchester to look at how this unfair situation can be resolved.”

Trafford Council’s Deborah Brown said the council “took a decision to make changes to the home-to-school transport policy in July 2011, to ensure that we could continue to support local families on the lowest incomes and children with special educational needs.

“This followed an extensive consultation which gave schools, parents and governors the opportunity to put their views forward. Careful consideration was given to all these views and the policy amended accordingly.”

Last updated: 3:17pm, September 6 2012