The Executive Board received an update report on the Council’s Fare Paying School Bus Service on the impact of the change in government legislation on the Council’s school bus transport provision, including its spare seat policy. The Executive Board Member referred to the reports’ three recommendations being presented for the Boards consideration and proposed that recommendations 1 and 3 be amended to read:
1) An amendment to the Authority’s Spare Seats Policy to waive the current annual £50 charge, with effect from the 1st September, 2019.
3) An Executive Board Advisory Panel be established comprising 6 members, on a cross party basis, together with the Executive Board Member for Environment, to look at all issues relating to Home to School Transport to report back to the Executive Board
Reference was made to a recent news programme where it had been stated by Lee Waters A.M. that Carmarthenshire County Council had interpreted the government’s legislation differently to other local authorities and clarification was sought on the accuracy of that statement. The Head of Transportation and Highways confirmed the Authority had not interpreted the legislation differently to any other local authority.
Councillor D. Cundy, in accordance with CPR 11, referred to the impact the change in legislation was having on some 500 pupils within Carmarthenshire and asked “Would the Executive Board Member not agree with me that the review mentioned as a recommendation in this report, must start immediately with all councillors consulted and working together, supporting the parents of whatever ward and make some swift impact to ensure that we eradicate the unsafe routes and help to provide suitable and safe transportation as well as look to a new future of an in house transport delivery for all our children”
The Executive Board Member for Environment in response reminded the Board of both the history of the current position with fare paying school bus services that had arisen as a result of the Department for Transport’s decision to remove the full exemption from the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and the Public Service Vehicle Access Regulations (PSVAR) compliance for school transport vehicles, and to the efforts being made nationally and locally to the Welsh Government and the Department for Transport seeking the exemption’s full reinstatement. She also referred to her amendment to the report seeking the establishment of an advisory panel to the Executive Board to look at all issues relating to Home to School Transport that would report back to the Executive Board.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that should the on-going dialogue between the Welsh Local Government Association and the Welsh Government fail to result in the re-instatement of the current full exemption for DDA/PSVAR compliance on school transport services, the Council approves the following measures:-
1. An amendment be made to the Authority’s Spare Seats Policy to waive the current annual £50 charge, effective from the 1st September, 2019;
2. The Authority continues to pursue the Welsh Government and the Department of Transport for a change in the application of the Public Service Vehicle Access Regulations to allow bus operators to continue using coaches on school bus routes operated on a commercial basis;
3. An Executive Board Advisory Panel be established comprising 6 members, on a cross party basis, together with the Executive Board Member for Environment to look at all issues relating to Home to School Transport and to report back to the Executive Board.