Plea to council over school transport cut

By Jennifer Lipman, March 29, 2012

A governor of a Jewish school whose pupils will be seriously affected by a cutback in transport provision from Hertfordshire County Council has appealed in person to councillors for a change of heart.

Hertsmere Jewish Primary's Abigail Silver was allotted a three-minute slot to make her case at Tuesday's full council meeting. She highlighted concerns about the council's decision to scrap free or concessionary transport to Jewish and other faith schools, which will take effect from September. She brought along a petition signed by 368 parents of HJPS pupils.

Mrs Silver, who has also written to Education Secretary Michael Gove, urged the council to take into account that "HJPS is a rural, isolated school, situated on a fast, unlit road without any public bus service or safe walking or cycling route. The original siting of the school was approved on the basis that our children would come to school by bus - and until recently, more than half our children did so."

She wanted to ensure councillors understood the implications of their decision - for example, there would be an estimated 150 more cars in the HJPS area every morning and afternoon, with significant safety and environmental implications.

A private coach service proposed by the school would cost £1,560 annually per child for Radlett pupils and at least £780 for Bushey children. Mrs Silver argued that councillors "could not in their wildest dreams" imagine that this cost would be easily affordable to all parents.

"We so appreciate the support we have been given over the last 10 years but do not cast us adrift now," she pleaded. The school has been promised a response within 10 working days.

Last month, the JC reported that a mother of two HJPS pupils was told by a council representative to consider moving them to a non-Jewish school if transport was an issue.

Last updated: 6:50pm, March 29 2012