In February 2016, Deputy Mayor, John Merry, met parents of disabled children who were distraught after seeing a cuts of £120,000 in the SEN (Special Education Needs) transport budget...
"There are no new cuts and no changes to what is provided to you" he promised "There are no proposals to change people's arrangements." (see previous Salford Star article - click here).
Forward wind to today, and there are now definite proposals to 'change people's arrangements'...
Salford Council currently provides free transport, pre and post school, for young people with Special Education Needs – but now this is almost certain to change with the Council today launching a consultation on cuts to the service.
In the consultation, parents and carers of children who have education, health and care plans (ECHPs) are being asked their views on 'contributing' towards the transport to the tune of £510 per year.
Others of college age, who don't have ECHPs, the Council states, will be offered "travel training in using public transport", while "Other students who cannot use public transport could be offered personal budgets and support to create their own travel plans". Transport for school age children won't be affected...
"Salford is one of the few authorities in Greater Manchester which currently provides free transport pre and post school and we have been proud to continue that for as long as we could" says Councillor John Walsh, Executive Support for Children's and Young People's Services "However, with 47% of our central government funding cut since 2010, £186 million already taken from our budget and further significant cuts to make this year we have no alternative but to reduce costs.
"Sadly that could mean asking parents and carers to now make a contribution towards the cost of transport, bringing us into line with other councils in Greater Manchester" he sighs "If these changes go through, we will work with children, students and their families to assess their individual circumstances. No-one will be deprived of nursery or post 16 education because of these proposals.
"Under the proposals, we are also looking to expand the range of support given to include more young people under 16" he adds "Travel training has worked very successfully with many adults and has opened up new jobs and volunteering opportunities for them. If it can benefit more young people we can open up a world of new possibilities for them and reduce the council's transport costs.
"Obviously not all young people will be capable of travelling independently or using public transport, even with support" he reveals "Our proposals for those young people are to offer a personal budget and work with them and their family to create an individual travel plan that suits their needs. This is all about making sure everyone can continue in education or training."
It's also about following the cuts to transport for adults with disabilities with cuts to young people's transport.
The consultation runs until 8th December – for further details and responses click here