PROPOSALS which will see £717,000 of cuts to school and college transport services will be discussed by councillors, after concerns were raised.

Shropshire Council’s cabinet agreed to put the proposals out to the public at a meeting earlier this month.

A consultation is open for public comment until April 26, but Shropshire Council’s People Overview Committee will discuss the plans at a meeting at Shirehall on Thursday.

The committee is being asked to consider the proposals due to concerns the move could go against the council’s “corporate aims.”

There are also concerns it could have a “negative impact” on those in need.

The cuts, which would affect new applicants and not those with agreements already in place,  would see higher bills for some families, while nursery transport for children with special educational needs will be withdrawn completely.

Families applying for the next school year would face making an annual financial contribution of £437.50, compared with the current £142.50 figure.

Currently, the council provides transport assistance for 200 post 16 students to mainstream school, sixth forms or other further educational establishments.  

Of the 200 post-16 students receiving transport assistance, 59 students are paying the higher rate of the contribution of £875 and 141 students are paying the lower rate of contribution of £142.50, which is set to rise under the changes.

It also provides transport for 144 special educational needs students, which does not see a contribution made from families. If the plans are approved, a contribution will need to be made.

It also provides transport for 17 special educational needs nursery children for which no contribution is currently required.

The council is proposing that this service is axed altogether to save £60,000.

Councillor Roger Evans, leader of the Lib Dem group on the council, previously called the proposal a “tax on rural students”, but Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting said it will hit urban areas as well.

A report to the People Overview Committee, by Karen Bradshaw, the council’s director of children’s services, says: “Officers have identified that proposed changes to discretionary school and college transport could result in a medium negative impact on protected characteristic groupings, in particular those for age, disability, and social inclusion.

“They could also potentially be seen as running against the corporate aims of the council with regard to children and young people and their life chances.”