Catholic Academy boss to speak over bus-cash cuts plan

Wharfedale Observer: Caroline Hyde Caroline Hyde

The chairman of a trust which runs Catholic schools in Menston and Ilkley has been invited to address a full Bradford Council meeting to explain how plans to cease paying for transport for children in faith schools continues to cause upset amongst the Catholic community.

Bradford Council is currently consulting on plans to cut subsidised transport to and from school for a number of groups. Among these groups are children who attend faith schools that are beyond the statutory walking distance.

Mrs Caroline Hyde, chairman of The Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust, which runs St Mary’s Menston and Sacred Heart, Ilkley, argues this will leave parents from St Mary’s and its feeder primary schools with an unforeseen financial burden.

Mrs Hyde has been in regular correspondence with Bradford Council regarding the plans, expressing her grave concerns about the adverse effects of the proposals. The Catholic communities of Addingham, Burley and Ilkley have since raised a petition indicating their opposition to the proposals, which they feel will treat Catholic families differently to those attending other state schools within the area.

Since the petition was presented, Mrs Hyde has been invited to address the full Bradford Council at a meeting to be held on Tuesday, March 25, along with other representatives from the Trust.

Mrs Hyde said: “I am really grateful that the council have given us the opportunity to raise this issue with them directly.

“Parents understand the immense financial pressures on local councils at the moment.

“However, this is a poorly thought through proposal, with little clarity about how savings will actually be made.

“Parents who cannot afford to pay nearly £400 a year per child may have to send their children to other, already over-full, schools, such as Ilkley Grammar.

“Other local children will then be sent to schools further away and the council will have to pay for their travel.

“This proposal will only save money if Catholic families are able to pay, effectively a tax on Catholic families.”

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