Council spending £231k a week on taxis

Cheshire East Council spends nearly quarter of a million pounds a week on taxis taking children to and from school.

The council pays for 887 children to go to school by taxi at a cost of £231,959.67 per week.

Of these, 320 travel outside the borough for schooling – at a cost of £103,513.46 per week.

The issue of school transport and taxis was first raised earlier this year when councillors thought there must be a cheaper way of transporting children to school.

It appears that at the meeting the two councillors who raised the issue – Wilmslow councillor Lata Anderson and Handforth councillor Julie Smith – were unaware of the full cost.

Cllr Smith said: “If those figures are right, I can’t believe we’re paying out that amount and a more cost-effective method hasn’t been looked for.”

Cheshire East has said it is planning a review of its travel to school policy.

Cllr Kathryn Flavell, lead member for children and families at Cheshire East Council, said: “We are required by law to make travel arrangements for certain children to attend school.

“When a child is eligible for school transport, our aim is to provide travel support that reflects the needs of the children and young people but also is the most cost-effective option available.

“Increased demand for school transport, in particular for children with special educational needs and disabilities, together with a reduction in the number of providers and the cost of fuel have all put pressure on our transport budget.

“This is a national issue, and the costs were highlighted in our latest budget, which was discussed and approved at a meeting of full council in February.”

She added: “In our budget we agreed further investment of £1.2 million during 2022/23 as well as committing to an independent review of the service

“The main aims of this review are to improve the experience of thousands of children who travel to and from school every day, minimise disruption and recommend savings.

“We are also investing in increasing the number of school places to help more children attend a local school reducing the need to travel and promoting a healthy lifestyle by walking or cycling where appropriate.

“We are committed to carrying out the review together with our key stakeholders, including parents, carers, young people, our staff and our schools and providers. 

“Details on the scope of the review and the timelines will be discussed at a public meeting of our children and families committee in May.”

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