Putting budget cuts in context
FIRST can I thank the hundreds of parents who have given their views [about home-to-school transport] at recent meetings. I think it’s fair to say we have had a frank, honest and sometimes heated exchange of views.
I certainly appreciate all the concerns raised. However, the reality is that I cannot afford to fund this service to the generous levels that we did previously.
As we’ve set out in our recent budget consultation, next year, across all services we’ll have £28million less to spend. We’ll aim to cover this by making £16m in savings but that still leaves a £12m gap to close. These are big numbers and it means taking extremely tough decisions.
This is the background context as to why we are changing home-to-school transport routes and increasing fares. If I didn’t have to do it I wouldn’t, but hopefully parents will start to understand the reasons why.
For this to be a sustainable service, it needs the increased income from fares, it needs the further savings that we can drive out and it needs the further service improvements we can still achieve. I and Amey, our transport provider, will continue to do what we can in the coming months to achieve a safe and economically viable solution for all.
I make no apologies for saying we are having to make savings in home-to-school transport as we are in other council services. I don’t expect all parents reading this letter to welcome that, but I hope I’ve managed to give the context. I’d also encourage everyone to respond to our latest budget consultation on our website – www.buckscc.gov.uk/ about-your-council/finance/budget/ budget-consultation/ – which is open until November 9.
MIKE APPLEYARD Cabinet member for education
and skills Buckinghamshire County Council
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