'SAVE OUR BUSES'- Residents push back against Coventry Council's mooted budget cuts - The Coventry Observer

'SAVE OUR BUSES'- Residents push back against Coventry Council's mooted budget cuts

Coventry Editorial 4th Feb, 2024 Updated: 4th Feb, 2024   0

COVENTRIANS have hit out at the council’s plans to balance the budget with the cash-strapped authority facing a flood of petitions against its proposals.

Three petitions pushing back on the authority’s controversial draft 2024/25 budget have been submitted, gaining over 4,000 signatures between them.

Concerned residents are urging councillors to ‘save their buses’ as well as to halt a ‘counterproductive’ plan to increase car parking charges at War Memorial Park.

Council bosses have proposed to remove funding which subsidises some school transport- the number 50, 60, 48, 40 and 49 bus services.

This decision would impact five dedicated school routes to Bishop Ullathorne Secondary and an extension to a public transport route serving Blue Coat School.

The authority provided funding to subsidise these routes after a commercial provider went into liquidation during the pandemic in 2020.

Removal of this cash would impact around 400 students, which the council claims is less than 2 per cent of the secondary school cohort.

The council said it would continue to provide bus passes for children entitled to statutory support for home-to-school transport.

But a petition against the plans said the current transport system was inadequate ‘to put it politely’ and the suggested loss of services would add pressure to the current network.

A second petition also raised fears about the impact this decision would have on faith schools such as Bishop Ullathorne.

The petition reads: “There are limited faith schools across the city and pupils can’t access safe reliable transport to attend such schools.

“If school buses are not available, omissions will increase.

“Children deserve a safe mode of transport to school especially when trying to access a faith school.”

The planned cuts and price hikes are part of the council’s attempts to address its cash crisis.

In recent months the authority has warned if this predicament is not addressed, it may have to issue a Section 114, effectively declaring itself bankrupt.

Council chiefs claim they face a £12million funding gap for this financial year, which is set to rise to around £30million for 2024/25.

These petitions will be considered by the authority’s finance chief Coun Richard Brown on Monday (February 5).

Due to this upcoming meeting, the council told the Observer it was unable to make any comment on the petitions.


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