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Mum condemns threat to free transport for St Joseph's Comprehensive pupils in Port Talbot

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 05, 2013

Joseph Tobin with his parents Shaun and Anna will lose free bus travel to a Port Talbot school

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A MUM has spoken out against council moves to withdraw free buses for many pupils at Neath and Port Talbot's sole Catholic secondary school.

Anna Tobin said the proposal went against Welsh Government guidelines on parental choice and would create traffic chaos in the area around St Joseph's Comprehensive in Aberavon.

Neath Port Talbot is now consulting on whether to stop paying for transport for pupils living more than two or three miles from a voluntary aided (Catholic or Church in Wales) school if there is a mainstream school nearer their home.

The idea has been criticised by some councillors and by St Joseph's head teacher Eugene Scourfield, who said it smacked of religious discrimination.

Mrs Tobin and husband Shaun send their 12-year-old son Joseph, who has cystic fibrosis, to St Joseph's.

She said Joseph had been well looked after, right from his nursery days.

"We thank the council for providing the Catholic community with free transport to the St Joseph's schools," she said.

"But withdrawing it may well have an impact on the numbers attending schools as it will come down to affordability on already squeezed household budgets."

Mrs Joseph said she felt particularly sorry for Aberavon residents.

"There may well be a few more hundred cars parking outside their homes, blocking driveways," she said. "Rather than paying the extra transport costs parents will just transport then to school themselves.

"This will only cause further pollution and increased traffic."

Mrs Tobin said some might argue that parents who wanted to send their children to a Catholic school should pay.

Her response was: "I pay income tax and council tax that is spent on many things I do not use or support. But anything relating to children's education should be untouchable as far as financial cuts are concerned.

"While free transport is discretionary the Welsh Government encourages councils to facilitate parental choice."

Education director Karl Napieralla said: "We would like to thank Anna Tobin for her comments. We will ensure these are considered as part of the consultation."

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  • Englishdragon  |  February 05 2013, 2:38PM

    So the Tobins feel sorry for the local residents living near St Josephs school they should know what its like as they used to live opposite come and see the traffic we have to put up with school coaches which are normally used for holidays, yellow lines outside the school gates on which those coaches park when they pick and drop off side streets then bombard with all the traffic and if the emergency services ever needed to use Newton Avenue well enough said you cant even get a car through by the school. Its time something is done about this!

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  • Neathboy234  |  February 05 2013, 12:45PM

    There should be no place for religion in education, it's an outrage that it's allowed at all BTW i hope Shaun gets well soon after being knocked off his bike

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  • JohnnyDale  |  February 05 2013, 7:55AM

    The removal of this discriminatory subsidy is long overdue. Why should parents who choose a particular school based on its specialisation in the arts, science, sport etc or just because it perceived to be a generally good one have to pay for their transport costs, yet parents who choose one based on its adherence to a particular religion receive financial assistance. It beggars belief that people who have benefited from this inequality have the gall to claim that they are the ones being discriminated against once the intention to make the system fair for everyone is mentioned.

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