School bus activists fume at councillor’s ‘personal attack’

School bus activists fume at councillor’s ‘personal attack’

The Oxfordshire School Bus Action Group are angry at a letter written by county council cabinet member for children, education and families Melinda Tilley. From left, Andrew Baud, Shane Rae, coordinator Sue Moon, Angus Wilkinson and Helen Ambrose

Melinda Tilley

First published in Headlines Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

A ROW has broken out after a councillor disparaged a home-to-school transport campaign group.

A letter from Melinda Tilley dismissing the Oxon Schools Bus Action Group (OSBAG) was sent to councillors across Oxfordshire County Council on Thursday.

It was leaked to OSBAG the next day and members have expressed anger and disappointment at the remarks by the cabinet member for children, education and families.

OSBAG was set up in response to county council plans to stop subsidising free school transport for children whose parents choose not to send them to their nearest school, in a bid to save £2m.

The move has been controversial, with an original consultation shelved last year.

Mrs Tilley’s letter was sent on county council-headed paper and said: “Perhaps ‘OSBAG’ should listen more to what real parents say they will do (i.e. they will want to continue to send their children to what they consider to be the best school for their children, rather than to the one that the council will fund transport to) rather than to their own rhetoric which seems to be more about their own personal and, perhaps, political agenda.

“‘OSBAG’ may have hundreds of ‘Facebook friends’ but the three or four T-shirt-wearing ‘usual suspects’ who turned up at each of the 10 public meetings suggests that there is rather less behind the façade than has been suggested by generous media coverage.”

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OSBAG co-ordinator Sue Moon told the Oxford Mail: “We were disappointed and shocked when we saw this letter. “There have been so many people who have expressed concern about the proposals. There has been a massive response.

“It is not just the work of three or four people. I think the fact that it is on county council paper makes it look like it reflects the view of the cabinet and has been approved by the council leader.

“I do attend wearing the campaign T-shirt, but I am there as a representative of the group. Throughout the meetings, nothing said was personal and this feels like a personal attack.”

Mrs Moon said up to 1,000 people attended the 10 public meetings about the subject. She added: “For parents to go to these, which are normally in the early evening, is quite difficult, so the fact that so many went shows the strength of opinion.”

The second consultation was due to end in December but was extended and will close today. Oxfordshire County Council has received more than 1,900 replies to the consultation.

OSBAG currently has more than 1,400 “likes” on Facebook and a petition against the plans contained more than 7,000 signatures.

The issue will be discussed on Tuesday, February 4.

Councillor Melinda Tilley would not comment further when approached by the Oxford Mail yesterday.

Comments (70)

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7:23am Tue 14 Jan 14

suemoon says...

"OSBAG was set up in response to county council plans to stop subsidising free school transport for children whose parents choose not to send them to their nearest school, in a bid to save £2m."
This is a common misconception. Most of the parents so worried about these changes want their children to attend their catchment school, which in some cases is not geographically their nearest. so do the Council who support the great partnership working between primary and secondary schools. The Council do not want them to send their children to their nearest school by bus because if they did OCC would save no money. These proposals are about cuts to public services for children. Nothing more-the council Officers responsible for writing these proposals made this clear at the recent public meetings.
This latest development in what must be one of the sorriest episodes in recent Council history, is alarming. Councillor Tilley may have breached the Council's Code of Conduct with her outpouring of bile against OSBAG. She also calls into question the legitimacy of the consultation process as she appears to have willfuly disregarded the feedback she has received from thousands of families acoss the county. The 1,900 responses represent the tip of the iceberg. This consultation is complex and we know that many have given up trying to engage with it even though they object. Nevertheless the number of people who have contacted the Council over this is HUGE in comparison with the vast majority of Council consultations and reflects the enormous strength of feeling about these socially divisive plans that look set to damage the education of children in Oxon and do not guarantee to deliver any savings. Listen to the public OCC. Scrap them now.
"OSBAG was set up in response to county council plans to stop subsidising free school transport for children whose parents choose not to send them to their nearest school, in a bid to save £2m." This is a common misconception. Most of the parents so worried about these changes want their children to attend their catchment school, which in some cases is not geographically their nearest. so do the Council who support the great partnership working between primary and secondary schools. The Council do not want them to send their children to their nearest school by bus because if they did OCC would save no money. These proposals are about cuts to public services for children. Nothing more-the council Officers responsible for writing these proposals made this clear at the recent public meetings. This latest development in what must be one of the sorriest episodes in recent Council history, is alarming. Councillor Tilley may have breached the Council's Code of Conduct with her outpouring of bile against OSBAG. She also calls into question the legitimacy of the consultation process as she appears to have willfuly disregarded the feedback she has received from thousands of families acoss the county. The 1,900 responses represent the tip of the iceberg. This consultation is complex and we know that many have given up trying to engage with it even though they object. Nevertheless the number of people who have contacted the Council over this is HUGE in comparison with the vast majority of Council consultations and reflects the enormous strength of feeling about these socially divisive plans that look set to damage the education of children in Oxon and do not guarantee to deliver any savings. Listen to the public OCC. Scrap them now. suemoon
  • Score: 30

8:16am Tue 14 Jan 14

Segdirb22 says...

I am a working mother of 2 children who currently get a bus to their catchment school. Sadly, for us, a school was built about a mile closer but this school was built to cater for the town in which it was built. To remove the village children from their catchment school would have been ludicrous as this would have meant the school would have lost over 2 thirds of its intake - you don't need to be Einstein to realise that the financial implications of a school losing 2/3rds of its intake are not good. Anyhow, my children will now lose their bus and be faced with an hour walk to/from school each day. The exercise will do them good you might say! Back in the day, we all walked, don't see what the fuss is. Well, anyone with secondary age children will know that an hour walk each end of the day carrying the modern day books and equipment is utterly ridiculous. Factor in parents that have to work and can't assist with taking/collecting and I think the NHS will be inundated with teenage spinal issues!
Anyhow, I started following these consultations and OSBAG right back at the beginning, not because I am some sort of political rebel (as Mrs Tilley will have you believe) but because I am passionate about the education, welfare and safeguarding of our young people. We have some excellent schools in the county who are all working really hard to ensure that our kids get the best. Our particular school was recently described by Cllr Hudspeth as a super model that should be rolled out county-wide as an example.
Anyhow, the bottom line is that OSBAG are not a bunch of political animals, they are made up of us parents that care and want the best for our kids. Because we all have children and have to go to work to survive we don't always have the time to pick through bones and work out how all these consultations/propos
als will affect us. As a collective, we have been able to do this and I am sorry if OCC feels exposed but the message is clear. You have a county full of intelligent people and you should not try to pull the wool over their eyes. A consultation should be about providing the facts and letting people make a considered response. All the way through these consultations the information has been lacking, the maths hasn't worked out and it all appears to be a massive gamble. I for one am not happy with someone gambling A) with my tax and B) with my child's education.
I am a working mother of 2 children who currently get a bus to their catchment school. Sadly, for us, a school was built about a mile closer but this school was built to cater for the town in which it was built. To remove the village children from their catchment school would have been ludicrous as this would have meant the school would have lost over 2 thirds of its intake - you don't need to be Einstein to realise that the financial implications of a school losing 2/3rds of its intake are not good. Anyhow, my children will now lose their bus and be faced with an hour walk to/from school each day. The exercise will do them good you might say! Back in the day, we all walked, don't see what the fuss is. Well, anyone with secondary age children will know that an hour walk each end of the day carrying the modern day books and equipment is utterly ridiculous. Factor in parents that have to work and can't assist with taking/collecting and I think the NHS will be inundated with teenage spinal issues! Anyhow, I started following these consultations and OSBAG right back at the beginning, not because I am some sort of political rebel (as Mrs Tilley will have you believe) but because I am passionate about the education, welfare and safeguarding of our young people. We have some excellent schools in the county who are all working really hard to ensure that our kids get the best. Our particular school was recently described by Cllr Hudspeth as a super model that should be rolled out county-wide as an example. Anyhow, the bottom line is that OSBAG are not a bunch of political animals, they are made up of us parents that care and want the best for our kids. Because we all have children and have to go to work to survive we don't always have the time to pick through bones and work out how all these consultations/propos als will affect us. As a collective, we have been able to do this and I am sorry if OCC feels exposed but the message is clear. You have a county full of intelligent people and you should not try to pull the wool over their eyes. A consultation should be about providing the facts and letting people make a considered response. All the way through these consultations the information has been lacking, the maths hasn't worked out and it all appears to be a massive gamble. I for one am not happy with someone gambling A) with my tax and B) with my child's education. Segdirb22
  • Score: 27

9:24am Tue 14 Jan 14

MHanco says...

I am a member of the OSBAG Facebook Group and have replied to the consultation. I am not a particularly political person, but I did in fact vote for Councillor Tilley at the last election because she lives in my village so I (mistakenly) believed that she would have the interests of our community at heart. I am at a loss to express my disappointment in these proposals; our village school has a very strong link with our catchment secondary school so much so that (fully supported and encouraged by OCC) it joined a multi-school academy with the catchment secondary school, then these proposals come along and because there is a school a mile closer (that has no links to our primary) I now have to pay to send my children to their catchment school, or if I can'f find enough money to do this send them to the school that is one mile closer (there is no cost saving in a bus travelling 9 miles or 8 miles - the council are banking on no one selecting to move schools to keep the free transport).
The team of OSBAG organisers have never come across as politically bias to me and thank goodness that they have been able to go to these meetings - as a non-car owning, working parent of 3 children it has been impossible for me to attend in person.
Some of the previous OCC messages around this proposal would have you believe that this is a bunch of fussy parents who are picking and choosing which school their children attend and expecting the tax payer to foot the bill - this is not the case - as far as I can see, this is a deliberate and calculated move by OCC to extort money from parents.... if you want to keep going to your catchment school pay up or else.... if we choose 'or else' there is no cost saving. A bus travelling in one direction for 9 miles will cost them the same as a bus travelling in the other direction for 8 miles.
I am a member of the OSBAG Facebook Group and have replied to the consultation. I am not a particularly political person, but I did in fact vote for Councillor Tilley at the last election because she lives in my village so I (mistakenly) believed that she would have the interests of our community at heart. I am at a loss to express my disappointment in these proposals; our village school has a very strong link with our catchment secondary school so much so that (fully supported and encouraged by OCC) it joined a multi-school academy with the catchment secondary school, then these proposals come along and because there is a school a mile closer (that has no links to our primary) I now have to pay to send my children to their catchment school, or if I can'f find enough money to do this send them to the school that is one mile closer (there is no cost saving in a bus travelling 9 miles or 8 miles - the council are banking on no one selecting to move schools to keep the free transport). The team of OSBAG organisers have never come across as politically bias to me and thank goodness that they have been able to go to these meetings - as a non-car owning, working parent of 3 children it has been impossible for me to attend in person. Some of the previous OCC messages around this proposal would have you believe that this is a bunch of fussy parents who are picking and choosing which school their children attend and expecting the tax payer to foot the bill - this is not the case - as far as I can see, this is a deliberate and calculated move by OCC to extort money from parents.... if you want to keep going to your catchment school pay up or else.... if we choose 'or else' there is no cost saving. A bus travelling in one direction for 9 miles will cost them the same as a bus travelling in the other direction for 8 miles. MHanco
  • Score: 20

9:45am Tue 14 Jan 14

Oxon council taxpayer says...

Im sure the same 3 or 4 usual suspects with their political agendas, crackpot ideas and lack of touch with reality will be at the meeting on the 4th - you know the ones the Councillors!
Im sure the same 3 or 4 usual suspects with their political agendas, crackpot ideas and lack of touch with reality will be at the meeting on the 4th - you know the ones the Councillors! Oxon council taxpayer
  • Score: -15

10:39am Tue 14 Jan 14

AngusW2013 says...

For Cllr Tilley to be critical of members of the public who have taken the time and made the effort to express their deep seated concerns about these damaging proposals is an affront. Compare their engagement in the consultation process with that of Cllr Tilley who despite being Cabinet Member for Education was not on the OCC panel for any of the public meetings and failed to utter a word at the meetings she did attend. Instead Cllr Tilley secretly writes a letter ‘From the Office of the Cabinet’ rather than putting her views in the public domain. Her letter reveals a disregard for the consultation process and the people who have responded, while also containing so many factual errors that suggests she has not really followed and understood the debate at all.
For Cllr Tilley to be critical of members of the public who have taken the time and made the effort to express their deep seated concerns about these damaging proposals is an affront. Compare their engagement in the consultation process with that of Cllr Tilley who despite being Cabinet Member for Education was not on the OCC panel for any of the public meetings and failed to utter a word at the meetings she did attend. Instead Cllr Tilley secretly writes a letter ‘From the Office of the Cabinet’ rather than putting her views in the public domain. Her letter reveals a disregard for the consultation process and the people who have responded, while also containing so many factual errors that suggests she has not really followed and understood the debate at all. AngusW2013
  • Score: 31

11:04am Tue 14 Jan 14

jhalinson says...

I don't think she is dismissing the campaign, she is pointing out that the campaign has managed to get a large amount of publicity which doesn't necessarily reflect the public's view on the issues.

There must have been at least 6 articles in the Oxford Mail over the past few weeks whereas arguably more important issues don't receive as much coverage.
I don't think she is dismissing the campaign, she is pointing out that the campaign has managed to get a large amount of publicity which doesn't necessarily reflect the public's view on the issues. There must have been at least 6 articles in the Oxford Mail over the past few weeks whereas arguably more important issues don't receive as much coverage. jhalinson
  • Score: -28

11:09am Tue 14 Jan 14

SteveK71 says...

In response to an email I recently sent to Cllr Tilley, highlighting the detrimental impact these proposals will have on the local primary schools in her own area and the parents and families she was elected to represent she replied: "Thanks for your e-mail and the information, I will see it gets into the consultation process. No decisions have been made and all submissions will be taken into account." As the leaked letter included in this article clearly shows, she has in fact already made her mind up and has neither the common decency to reply with counter arguments to those raised in my email to her or indeed to consider their implications. Surely as she has expressed her biased, political view, she cannot participate further in this process and the Council Leader must withdraw her from the vote on the 4th Feb or else send a clear indication that the consultation process is nothing more than a façade to validate a decision the cabinet has already made. I don't own an OSBAG T-shirt.
In response to an email I recently sent to Cllr Tilley, highlighting the detrimental impact these proposals will have on the local primary schools in her own area and the parents and families she was elected to represent she replied: "Thanks for your e-mail and the information, I will see it gets into the consultation process. No decisions have been made and all submissions will be taken into account." As the leaked letter included in this article clearly shows, she has in fact already made her mind up and has neither the common decency to reply with counter arguments to those raised in my email to her or indeed to consider their implications. Surely as she has expressed her biased, political view, she cannot participate further in this process and the Council Leader must withdraw her from the vote on the 4th Feb or else send a clear indication that the consultation process is nothing more than a façade to validate a decision the cabinet has already made. I don't own an OSBAG T-shirt. SteveK71
  • Score: 25

11:21am Tue 14 Jan 14

suemoon says...

SteveK71 wrote:
In response to an email I recently sent to Cllr Tilley, highlighting the detrimental impact these proposals will have on the local primary schools in her own area and the parents and families she was elected to represent she replied: "Thanks for your e-mail and the information, I will see it gets into the consultation process. No decisions have been made and all submissions will be taken into account." As the leaked letter included in this article clearly shows, she has in fact already made her mind up and has neither the common decency to reply with counter arguments to those raised in my email to her or indeed to consider their implications. Surely as she has expressed her biased, political view, she cannot participate further in this process and the Council Leader must withdraw her from the vote on the 4th Feb or else send a clear indication that the consultation process is nothing more than a façade to validate a decision the cabinet has already made. I don't own an OSBAG T-shirt.
Would you like one?!
[quote][p][bold]SteveK71[/bold] wrote: In response to an email I recently sent to Cllr Tilley, highlighting the detrimental impact these proposals will have on the local primary schools in her own area and the parents and families she was elected to represent she replied: "Thanks for your e-mail and the information, I will see it gets into the consultation process. No decisions have been made and all submissions will be taken into account." As the leaked letter included in this article clearly shows, she has in fact already made her mind up and has neither the common decency to reply with counter arguments to those raised in my email to her or indeed to consider their implications. Surely as she has expressed her biased, political view, she cannot participate further in this process and the Council Leader must withdraw her from the vote on the 4th Feb or else send a clear indication that the consultation process is nothing more than a façade to validate a decision the cabinet has already made. I don't own an OSBAG T-shirt.[/p][/quote]Would you like one?! suemoon
  • Score: 4

11:25am Tue 14 Jan 14

suemoon says...

jhalinson wrote:
I don't think she is dismissing the campaign, she is pointing out that the campaign has managed to get a large amount of publicity which doesn't necessarily reflect the public's view on the issues.

There must have been at least 6 articles in the Oxford Mail over the past few weeks whereas arguably more important issues don't receive as much coverage.
Come on James, you know that's not what she's doing with this letter. This is not about the Oxford Mail giving us too much airtime. This is a visceral attack on a campaign group that have quite rightly exposed numerous errors the council have made and worked incredibly hard to support members of the public desperate for information the Council won't give them. Councillor Tilley has behaved appallingly and laid herslf open to accusations of having violated the Council's member's Code of Conduct. The Council Leader has not distanced himself from her position either. This consultation lurches from one farcical episode to another. It is a disgrace.
[quote][p][bold]jhalinson[/bold] wrote: I don't think she is dismissing the campaign, she is pointing out that the campaign has managed to get a large amount of publicity which doesn't necessarily reflect the public's view on the issues. There must have been at least 6 articles in the Oxford Mail over the past few weeks whereas arguably more important issues don't receive as much coverage.[/p][/quote]Come on James, you know that's not what she's doing with this letter. This is not about the Oxford Mail giving us too much airtime. This is a visceral attack on a campaign group that have quite rightly exposed numerous errors the council have made and worked incredibly hard to support members of the public desperate for information the Council won't give them. Councillor Tilley has behaved appallingly and laid herslf open to accusations of having violated the Council's member's Code of Conduct. The Council Leader has not distanced himself from her position either. This consultation lurches from one farcical episode to another. It is a disgrace. suemoon
  • Score: 20

11:38am Tue 14 Jan 14

JWoodward says...

jhalinson wrote:
I don't think she is dismissing the campaign, she is pointing out that the campaign has managed to get a large amount of publicity which doesn't necessarily reflect the public's view on the issues.

There must have been at least 6 articles in the Oxford Mail over the past few weeks whereas arguably more important issues don't receive as much coverage.
"I don't think she is dismissing the campaign"
Have you read what she wrote, and the language she used?! It most certainly was dismissive of the campaign. It would take an extremely generous reading of her letter to reach a different conclusion.

You are correct - the OSBAG campaign has received a lot of publicity. Good. If there are other issues that you feel are important, I suggest you write to and lobby the Oxford Mail to get them covered more, which is a better solution than expecting this issue, which is important to many people, to be covered less!
[quote][p][bold]jhalinson[/bold] wrote: I don't think she is dismissing the campaign, she is pointing out that the campaign has managed to get a large amount of publicity which doesn't necessarily reflect the public's view on the issues. There must have been at least 6 articles in the Oxford Mail over the past few weeks whereas arguably more important issues don't receive as much coverage.[/p][/quote]"I don't think she is dismissing the campaign" Have you read what she wrote, and the language she used?! It most certainly was dismissive of the campaign. It would take an extremely generous reading of her letter to reach a different conclusion. You are correct - the OSBAG campaign has received a lot of publicity. Good. If there are other issues that you feel are important, I suggest you write to and lobby the Oxford Mail to get them covered more, which is a better solution than expecting this issue, which is important to many people, to be covered less! JWoodward
  • Score: 21

12:00pm Tue 14 Jan 14

lsumner says...

It was with great disappointment with which I read the letter being referred to here. I am ‘real parent’- the majority of the OSBAG ‘friends’ are - who is affected by these consultations and the Councillor, very unprofessionally, scathingly refers to us as ‘Facebook friends’. Facebook is a legitimate social media tool which is usefully used by many ‘real’ people, both parents and otherwise, to be so dismissive about the mechanism shows a great lack of understanding about how many busy individuals, and indeed successful organisations of many kinds, choose to share information. I do hope that Councillor Tilley and others who dismiss the concerns the group voices choose to engage with the wealth of information and positive suggestions that can be found on the OSBAG Facebook site. Cllr Tilley’s dismissive letter does all the ‘real’ parents and supporters working hard to find a positive solutions that do save money while still protecting key services a real disservice.
It was with great disappointment with which I read the letter being referred to here. I am ‘real parent’- the majority of the OSBAG ‘friends’ are - who is affected by these consultations and the Councillor, very unprofessionally, scathingly refers to us as ‘Facebook friends’. Facebook is a legitimate social media tool which is usefully used by many ‘real’ people, both parents and otherwise, to be so dismissive about the mechanism shows a great lack of understanding about how many busy individuals, and indeed successful organisations of many kinds, choose to share information. I do hope that Councillor Tilley and others who dismiss the concerns the group voices choose to engage with the wealth of information and positive suggestions that can be found on the OSBAG Facebook site. Cllr Tilley’s dismissive letter does all the ‘real’ parents and supporters working hard to find a positive solutions that do save money while still protecting key services a real disservice. lsumner
  • Score: 21

12:11pm Tue 14 Jan 14

platinum195 says...

I was totally disgusted when I read Cllr Tiley's letter yesterday. I have invested considerable time and effort in trying to understand the details of the proposals as they will have a catastrophic effect on the village in which I reside. I have attended 4 public meeting after being fobbed off 3 times I finally got a straight answer - that OCC "..could not provide an answer to my question.". OSBAG have helped to get to the bottom of the issues as the whole consultation has been badly managed. Key stakeholders have not been informed and throughout the process maps and key information have been changed or just appeared out of thin air. OSBAG made sure we were kept updated with this. It is very upsetting that Cllr Tiley has criticised OSBAG in this was as they have maintained a very professional attitude throughout the process faced at time with some unpleasant behaviour for OCC this letter being the latest example. To suggest that OSBAG are out off touch with families in Oxfordshire is frankly ludicrous - On sunday I visited 50 houses in my village to ask them to sign a petition in opposition to these proposals - 100% signed immediately and may mentioned how confusing the consultion document was to fill in. How it has come to this is really beyond me OCC cancelled an early consultation for unclear reasons so they should have got it right this time but they clearly haven't. Oxfordshire is standing up to this and this letter only increases our strength and makes OCC look weak. I just hope that the correct decision is made on the 4th of February but if Cllr Tiley is typical of the members of the Council I am very very concerned.
I was totally disgusted when I read Cllr Tiley's letter yesterday. I have invested considerable time and effort in trying to understand the details of the proposals as they will have a catastrophic effect on the village in which I reside. I have attended 4 public meeting after being fobbed off 3 times I finally got a straight answer - that OCC "..could not provide an answer to my question.". OSBAG have helped to get to the bottom of the issues as the whole consultation has been badly managed. Key stakeholders have not been informed and throughout the process maps and key information have been changed or just appeared out of thin air. OSBAG made sure we were kept updated with this. It is very upsetting that Cllr Tiley has criticised OSBAG in this was as they have maintained a very professional attitude throughout the process faced at time with some unpleasant behaviour for OCC this letter being the latest example. To suggest that OSBAG are out off touch with families in Oxfordshire is frankly ludicrous - On sunday I visited 50 houses in my village to ask them to sign a petition in opposition to these proposals - 100% signed immediately and may mentioned how confusing the consultion document was to fill in. How it has come to this is really beyond me OCC cancelled an early consultation for unclear reasons so they should have got it right this time but they clearly haven't. Oxfordshire is standing up to this and this letter only increases our strength and makes OCC look weak. I just hope that the correct decision is made on the 4th of February but if Cllr Tiley is typical of the members of the Council I am very very concerned. platinum195
  • Score: 25

12:12pm Tue 14 Jan 14

alu355 says...

I think it would be helpful for parents who are against these proposals to state how they would suggest OCC saves the £41 million that it needs to save. No councillor likes making these decisions but they have to be made.

There was an article in the Oxford Mail about 91 taxis being used for 91 pupils to get them to and from school, surely a large saving can be made there.
Any other ideas?
I think it would be helpful for parents who are against these proposals to state how they would suggest OCC saves the £41 million that it needs to save. No councillor likes making these decisions but they have to be made. There was an article in the Oxford Mail about 91 taxis being used for 91 pupils to get them to and from school, surely a large saving can be made there. Any other ideas? alu355
  • Score: -61

12:52pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Oxon council taxpayer says...

alu355 wrote:
I think it would be helpful for parents who are against these proposals to state how they would suggest OCC saves the £41 million that it needs to save. No councillor likes making these decisions but they have to be made.

There was an article in the Oxford Mail about 91 taxis being used for 91 pupils to get them to and from school, surely a large saving can be made there.
Any other ideas?
Taxis are the least cost efficient mode of transport however by the OCCs own admission their use is likely to increase in many rural locations as pupils are redirected to their nearest school not their catchment school. In our village it will go from one large bus to three smaller ones under the new proposal - how does that reduce costs, pollution, traffic?. This proposal will never realise £41m in savings and for a number of years will probably cost more.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: I think it would be helpful for parents who are against these proposals to state how they would suggest OCC saves the £41 million that it needs to save. No councillor likes making these decisions but they have to be made. There was an article in the Oxford Mail about 91 taxis being used for 91 pupils to get them to and from school, surely a large saving can be made there. Any other ideas?[/p][/quote]Taxis are the least cost efficient mode of transport however by the OCCs own admission their use is likely to increase in many rural locations as pupils are redirected to their nearest school not their catchment school. In our village it will go from one large bus to three smaller ones under the new proposal - how does that reduce costs, pollution, traffic?. This proposal will never realise £41m in savings and for a number of years will probably cost more. Oxon council taxpayer
  • Score: -10

1:00pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Chris Fyfe says...

alu355 wrote:
I think it would be helpful for parents who are against these proposals to state how they would suggest OCC saves the £41 million that it needs to save. No councillor likes making these decisions but they have to be made.

There was an article in the Oxford Mail about 91 taxis being used for 91 pupils to get them to and from school, surely a large saving can be made there.
Any other ideas?
These so-called savings might cost more money if the council ends up running two buses from the same village. If you can't get a place at the nearest school or if you are on free school meals you will still be entitled to a bus to the catchment school. So you could easily have the situation where instead of one bus running to the catchment school you have one running to the nearest school and one to the catchment school.

The council's figures assume that no parent will chose to go the nearest school, ever.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: I think it would be helpful for parents who are against these proposals to state how they would suggest OCC saves the £41 million that it needs to save. No councillor likes making these decisions but they have to be made. There was an article in the Oxford Mail about 91 taxis being used for 91 pupils to get them to and from school, surely a large saving can be made there. Any other ideas?[/p][/quote]These so-called savings might cost more money if the council ends up running two buses from the same village. If you can't get a place at the nearest school or if you are on free school meals you will still be entitled to a bus to the catchment school. So you could easily have the situation where instead of one bus running to the catchment school you have one running to the nearest school and one to the catchment school. The council's figures assume that no parent will chose to go the nearest school, ever. Chris Fyfe
  • Score: 9

1:41pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school?

It doesn't make sense.

Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now.

It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.
What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school? It doesn't make sense. Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now. It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -4

1:46pm Tue 14 Jan 14

SteveK71 says...

alu355 wrote:
I think it would be helpful for parents who are against these proposals to state how they would suggest OCC saves the £41 million that it needs to save. No councillor likes making these decisions but they have to be made.

There was an article in the Oxford Mail about 91 taxis being used for 91 pupils to get them to and from school, surely a large saving can be made there.
Any other ideas?
Unfortunately the savings are not proposed as coming from reducing these taxis, or as some people seem to assume stopping parents sending their children to faith schools or other schools where it is illogical for them to go. The savings, if there are any, in the medium to long term are proposed to come from parents choosing to continue sending children to their catchment school rather than one that is marginally closer to them. In many cases closer doesn't actually mean easier to access or more logical to attend. It is very unclear what the financial implications will be, there is the very real possibility that it will cost more in the short term, but it is very clear that they put a huge burden on a small number of parents, they put at risk the quality of education within a number of schools that have built strong relationships with the catchment school that will no longer be the main destination for their children and will cause siblings to be split up at secondary level. One of the options proposed will even involve children who already attend a school being expected to change this school in years 9 or 10 if they want to continue to access free transport. These proposals target a small group of rural/ semi-rural parents and look to place a disproportionate burden for savings on this group - however, there is no guarantee this will even work and it will definitely have a negative impact on schools, parents and road users (more parents driving children to school at rush hour is something I'm sure everyone is looking forward to)
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: I think it would be helpful for parents who are against these proposals to state how they would suggest OCC saves the £41 million that it needs to save. No councillor likes making these decisions but they have to be made. There was an article in the Oxford Mail about 91 taxis being used for 91 pupils to get them to and from school, surely a large saving can be made there. Any other ideas?[/p][/quote]Unfortunately the savings are not proposed as coming from reducing these taxis, or as some people seem to assume stopping parents sending their children to faith schools or other schools where it is illogical for them to go. The savings, if there are any, in the medium to long term are proposed to come from parents choosing to continue sending children to their catchment school rather than one that is marginally closer to them. In many cases closer doesn't actually mean easier to access or more logical to attend. It is very unclear what the financial implications will be, there is the very real possibility that it will cost more in the short term, but it is very clear that they put a huge burden on a small number of parents, they put at risk the quality of education within a number of schools that have built strong relationships with the catchment school that will no longer be the main destination for their children and will cause siblings to be split up at secondary level. One of the options proposed will even involve children who already attend a school being expected to change this school in years 9 or 10 if they want to continue to access free transport. These proposals target a small group of rural/ semi-rural parents and look to place a disproportionate burden for savings on this group - however, there is no guarantee this will even work and it will definitely have a negative impact on schools, parents and road users (more parents driving children to school at rush hour is something I'm sure everyone is looking forward to) SteveK71
  • Score: 5

1:53pm Tue 14 Jan 14

SteveK71 says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school?

It doesn't make sense.

Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now.

It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.
This would be the worst case scenario for the Council.,If people start sending their children to their local school this means there are no savings to be made! All the savings come from the view that the catchments are what make most sense and parents will stick with these, funding the travel themselves rather than using free transport to the nearest school.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school? It doesn't make sense. Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now. It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.[/p][/quote]This would be the worst case scenario for the Council.,If people start sending their children to their local school this means there are no savings to be made! All the savings come from the view that the catchments are what make most sense and parents will stick with these, funding the travel themselves rather than using free transport to the nearest school. SteveK71
  • Score: 7

1:57pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

SteveK71 wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school?

It doesn't make sense.

Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now.

It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.
This would be the worst case scenario for the Council.,If people start sending their children to their local school this means there are no savings to be made! All the savings come from the view that the catchments are what make most sense and parents will stick with these, funding the travel themselves rather than using free transport to the nearest school.
Clearly the buses and taxis won't have to travel so far - so the contractual cost will be lower.
[quote][p][bold]SteveK71[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school? It doesn't make sense. Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now. It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.[/p][/quote]This would be the worst case scenario for the Council.,If people start sending their children to their local school this means there are no savings to be made! All the savings come from the view that the catchments are what make most sense and parents will stick with these, funding the travel themselves rather than using free transport to the nearest school.[/p][/quote]Clearly the buses and taxis won't have to travel so far - so the contractual cost will be lower. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -3

2:01pm Tue 14 Jan 14

SteveK71 says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
SteveK71 wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school?

It doesn't make sense.

Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now.

It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.
This would be the worst case scenario for the Council.,If people start sending their children to their local school this means there are no savings to be made! All the savings come from the view that the catchments are what make most sense and parents will stick with these, funding the travel themselves rather than using free transport to the nearest school.
Clearly the buses and taxis won't have to travel so far - so the contractual cost will be lower.
No - the coach companies have confirmed that this isn't the case - the savings only come from fewer coaches and these come from fewer parents choosing to use
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SteveK71[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school? It doesn't make sense. Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now. It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.[/p][/quote]This would be the worst case scenario for the Council.,If people start sending their children to their local school this means there are no savings to be made! All the savings come from the view that the catchments are what make most sense and parents will stick with these, funding the travel themselves rather than using free transport to the nearest school.[/p][/quote]Clearly the buses and taxis won't have to travel so far - so the contractual cost will be lower.[/p][/quote]No - the coach companies have confirmed that this isn't the case - the savings only come from fewer coaches and these come from fewer parents choosing to use SteveK71
  • Score: 5

2:05pm Tue 14 Jan 14

MHanco says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school?

It doesn't make sense.

Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now.

It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.
We are not talking miles in many cases - it is literally a matter of 0.5 miles, 1 mile, 1.5 miles difference between the catchment school and the nearest school (in some cases nearest schools being built after catchment school were already in place and being built for a closer, more populated area). Our primary school has just become part of a multi-school academy with our catchment secondary school, these kind of ties are not so easily cut - OCC say they don't have anything to do with catchment areas and they don't want to redraw the catchment map - if just a handful of families from our village opt for the free transport to the nearest school, the council will have to put on a new bus, then they will also have to keep the existing bus going too for anyone eligible for free school meals who will still be entitled to free transport to the catchment school.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school? It doesn't make sense. Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now. It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.[/p][/quote]We are not talking miles in many cases - it is literally a matter of 0.5 miles, 1 mile, 1.5 miles difference between the catchment school and the nearest school (in some cases nearest schools being built after catchment school were already in place and being built for a closer, more populated area). Our primary school has just become part of a multi-school academy with our catchment secondary school, these kind of ties are not so easily cut - OCC say they don't have anything to do with catchment areas and they don't want to redraw the catchment map - if just a handful of families from our village opt for the free transport to the nearest school, the council will have to put on a new bus, then they will also have to keep the existing bus going too for anyone eligible for free school meals who will still be entitled to free transport to the catchment school. MHanco
  • Score: 6

2:06pm Tue 14 Jan 14

AngusW2013 says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school?

It doesn't make sense.

Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now.

It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.
These proposals will generate the worst of all by keeping the idea of catchment schools but providing transport to a different school.
In our rural county there will always be a significant number of children that require transport to school - the alternative of building enough schools to ensure each child is within safe walking distance wont save any money!
There is nothing wrong with the idea of catchments. This allows partnerships to develop between the primary and secondary schools and has a lot of educational advantages. OCC has over the years invested an incredibly large amount of our money promoting, growing and supporting partnerships exactly because of the educational gains that come from them. These proposals will throw all that sustained investment and hard work on the scrap heap. These proposals do NOT provide value for money.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school? It doesn't make sense. Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now. It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.[/p][/quote]These proposals will generate the worst of all by keeping the idea of catchment schools but providing transport to a different school. In our rural county there will always be a significant number of children that require transport to school - the alternative of building enough schools to ensure each child is within safe walking distance wont save any money! There is nothing wrong with the idea of catchments. This allows partnerships to develop between the primary and secondary schools and has a lot of educational advantages. OCC has over the years invested an incredibly large amount of our money promoting, growing and supporting partnerships exactly because of the educational gains that come from them. These proposals will throw all that sustained investment and hard work on the scrap heap. These proposals do NOT provide value for money. AngusW2013
  • Score: 12

2:15pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Segdirb22 says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school?

It doesn't make sense.

Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now.

It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.
Our situation is that catchment was set up and then a new town appears, complete with a new school. The new school was only designed for the numbers associated with the town so all was left as is. OCC could change catchments but they won't go down that route for some strange reason? The main point here is that most of the proposed changes will not actually save money. This is the whole point. In a couple of instances the 'closer' school on the OCC map will actually take twice as long to get to and be twice the distance due to inaccessible roads. What OCC are banking on is people continuing to attend their catchment school but just not get transport - this is the only way that any savings could possibly be made. Coach journeys are not charged on distance but on time/type of journey - most of the new proposed journeys will actually take longer so therefore will be more expensive. It is all a bit of a joke and that is what all the fuss is about.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school? It doesn't make sense. Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now. It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.[/p][/quote]Our situation is that catchment was set up and then a new town appears, complete with a new school. The new school was only designed for the numbers associated with the town so all was left as is. OCC could change catchments but they won't go down that route for some strange reason? The main point here is that most of the proposed changes will not actually save money. This is the whole point. In a couple of instances the 'closer' school on the OCC map will actually take twice as long to get to and be twice the distance due to inaccessible roads. What OCC are banking on is people continuing to attend their catchment school but just not get transport - this is the only way that any savings could possibly be made. Coach journeys are not charged on distance but on time/type of journey - most of the new proposed journeys will actually take longer so therefore will be more expensive. It is all a bit of a joke and that is what all the fuss is about. Segdirb22
  • Score: 1

2:32pm Tue 14 Jan 14

platinum195 says...

One point that is not often made is that catchment areas actually provide a sensible way to manage home to school. By allocating a specific school to a village or area partnerships develop and the vast majority of children will elect to attend the catchment school and efficient transport to a specified destination can be provided. By basing the decision solely on "nearest school" a much more complicated and hard to manage transport system will be required. If OCC do agree to these proposals I expect them to seriously regret it.
One point that is not often made is that catchment areas actually provide a sensible way to manage home to school. By allocating a specific school to a village or area partnerships develop and the vast majority of children will elect to attend the catchment school and efficient transport to a specified destination can be provided. By basing the decision solely on "nearest school" a much more complicated and hard to manage transport system will be required. If OCC do agree to these proposals I expect them to seriously regret it. platinum195
  • Score: 9

2:41pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Segdirb22 says...

alu355 wrote:
I think it would be helpful for parents who are against these proposals to state how they would suggest OCC saves the £41 million that it needs to save. No councillor likes making these decisions but they have to be made.

There was an article in the Oxford Mail about 91 taxis being used for 91 pupils to get them to and from school, surely a large saving can be made there.
Any other ideas?
We have been making sensible suggestions through the consultation process. Some of which were partially agreed at the end of the first consultation and then ignored! Seems to be something much deeper going on here with this one.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: I think it would be helpful for parents who are against these proposals to state how they would suggest OCC saves the £41 million that it needs to save. No councillor likes making these decisions but they have to be made. There was an article in the Oxford Mail about 91 taxis being used for 91 pupils to get them to and from school, surely a large saving can be made there. Any other ideas?[/p][/quote]We have been making sensible suggestions through the consultation process. Some of which were partially agreed at the end of the first consultation and then ignored! Seems to be something much deeper going on here with this one. Segdirb22
  • Score: 7

2:47pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Segdirb22 says...

SteveK71 wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
SteveK71 wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school?

It doesn't make sense.

Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now.

It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.
This would be the worst case scenario for the Council.,If people start sending their children to their local school this means there are no savings to be made! All the savings come from the view that the catchments are what make most sense and parents will stick with these, funding the travel themselves rather than using free transport to the nearest school.
Clearly the buses and taxis won't have to travel so far - so the contractual cost will be lower.
No - the coach companies have confirmed that this isn't the case - the savings only come from fewer coaches and these come from fewer parents choosing to use
Coach companies do not charge on mileage. Their charges are based on a number of factors, with time being the main one. Should everyone take up the free bus to nearest school, children from a large number villages will now have to queue through the West End of Witney rather than a 5 minute hop along the A40 - the saving is a mile but the 'actual' cost will be significantly more. You could also argue that whoever originally set up catchments knew what they were doing as there are a number of examples across the county where the OCC's 'nearer as the crow flies' school is actually 2-3 times the time and distance by road. Again, the savings will actually turn into extra costs. It is all madness. We are not just a bunch of stupid, noisy parents who don't know what they are going on about. We have really thought these things though.
[quote][p][bold]SteveK71[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SteveK71[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school? It doesn't make sense. Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now. It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.[/p][/quote]This would be the worst case scenario for the Council.,If people start sending their children to their local school this means there are no savings to be made! All the savings come from the view that the catchments are what make most sense and parents will stick with these, funding the travel themselves rather than using free transport to the nearest school.[/p][/quote]Clearly the buses and taxis won't have to travel so far - so the contractual cost will be lower.[/p][/quote]No - the coach companies have confirmed that this isn't the case - the savings only come from fewer coaches and these come from fewer parents choosing to use[/p][/quote]Coach companies do not charge on mileage. Their charges are based on a number of factors, with time being the main one. Should everyone take up the free bus to nearest school, children from a large number villages will now have to queue through the West End of Witney rather than a 5 minute hop along the A40 - the saving is a mile but the 'actual' cost will be significantly more. You could also argue that whoever originally set up catchments knew what they were doing as there are a number of examples across the county where the OCC's 'nearer as the crow flies' school is actually 2-3 times the time and distance by road. Again, the savings will actually turn into extra costs. It is all madness. We are not just a bunch of stupid, noisy parents who don't know what they are going on about. We have really thought these things though. Segdirb22
  • Score: 13

2:51pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Segdirb22 says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school?

It doesn't make sense.

Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now.

It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.
We said right at the beginning - why not just change catchments? Apparently it takes too long so they prefer to take the stealth route!

In a lot of instances the 'nearer as the crow flies' schools are not actually nearer when you try to access them by road. If only it was as clear cut as just changing catchments.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school? It doesn't make sense. Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now. It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.[/p][/quote]We said right at the beginning - why not just change catchments? Apparently it takes too long so they prefer to take the stealth route! In a lot of instances the 'nearer as the crow flies' schools are not actually nearer when you try to access them by road. If only it was as clear cut as just changing catchments. Segdirb22
  • Score: 2

4:25pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Paddy Landau says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school?

It doesn't make sense.

Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now.

It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.
I cannot speak for the whole country, but in my area, the local primary school and the catchment school have deep and lasting links spanning, literally, several generations. Having some children (inevitably from the poorer families) attend the closest school while the remainder attend the catchment school (which, incidentally, is faster and easier to reach than the closest school) will lead to class divisions within our village based on income. The savings made by the council would be trivial, unless the council enforces its stated walking route, which in the winter takes the children through dark unlit flood plains (heavily flooded, of course) and on equally dark unlit paths alongside swollen rivers. The "consultation" (which, as a previous poster pointed out, is actually a decision) has been ill-thought out and bordering on the callous. But the response from Tilley does not surprise me — it is not the first time that I have come across extraordinary arrogance and patronising comments by certain OCC councillors.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school? It doesn't make sense. Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now. It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.[/p][/quote]I cannot speak for the whole country, but in my area, the local primary school and the catchment school have deep and lasting links spanning, literally, several generations. Having some children (inevitably from the poorer families) attend the closest school while the remainder attend the catchment school (which, incidentally, is faster and easier to reach than the closest school) will lead to class divisions within our village based on income. The savings made by the council would be trivial, unless the council enforces its stated walking route, which in the winter takes the children through dark unlit flood plains (heavily flooded, of course) and on equally dark unlit paths alongside swollen rivers. The "consultation" (which, as a previous poster pointed out, is actually a decision) has been ill-thought out and bordering on the callous. But the response from Tilley does not surprise me — it is not the first time that I have come across extraordinary arrogance and patronising comments by certain OCC councillors. Paddy Landau
  • Score: 11

4:40pm Tue 14 Jan 14

HelenSimpson says...

Cllr Tilley says: 'Perhaps 'OSBAG' should listen more to what real parents say they will do (i.e. they will want to continue to send their children to what they consider to be the best school for their children, rather than to the one that the Council will fund transport to) rather than to their own rhetoric which seems to be more about their own personal and, perhaps, political agenda.'

Indeed this is what 'all' parents want. They are being asked to comment on the withdrawal of transport to those schools in the complete absence of any affordable, sustainable or safe alternative. The council is seeking to shift the entire burden and risk of providing and paying for this key service onto families.

I am a 'real' parent. Of course I am engaged with my own child's education. I am also one of hundreds of school governors and parents in Oxfordshire who give freely of their time for no financial reward, engage objectively and critically with education policy and myriad other issues in order to promote the good state, free, education of all our children, regardless of their families' incomes. On a personal level I am insulted by Councillor Tilley's comments and can only hope members of the Cabinet will appraise them in the same intelligent, critical and objective spirit that members of OSBAG have applied.
Cllr Tilley says: 'Perhaps 'OSBAG' should listen more to what real parents say they will do (i.e. they will want to continue to send their children to what they consider to be the best school for their children, rather than to the one that the Council will fund transport to) rather than to their own rhetoric which seems to be more about their own personal and, perhaps, political agenda.' Indeed this is what 'all' parents want. They are being asked to comment on the withdrawal of transport to those schools in the complete absence of any affordable, sustainable or safe alternative. The council is seeking to shift the entire burden and risk of providing and paying for this key service onto families. I am a 'real' parent. Of course I am engaged with my own child's education. I am also one of hundreds of school governors and parents in Oxfordshire who give freely of their time for no financial reward, engage objectively and critically with education policy and myriad other issues in order to promote the good state, free, education of all our children, regardless of their families' incomes. On a personal level I am insulted by Councillor Tilley's comments and can only hope members of the Cabinet will appraise them in the same intelligent, critical and objective spirit that members of OSBAG have applied. HelenSimpson
  • Score: 4

4:47pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Segdirb22 says...

Paddy Landau wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school?

It doesn't make sense.

Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now.

It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.
I cannot speak for the whole country, but in my area, the local primary school and the catchment school have deep and lasting links spanning, literally, several generations. Having some children (inevitably from the poorer families) attend the closest school while the remainder attend the catchment school (which, incidentally, is faster and easier to reach than the closest school) will lead to class divisions within our village based on income. The savings made by the council would be trivial, unless the council enforces its stated walking route, which in the winter takes the children through dark unlit flood plains (heavily flooded, of course) and on equally dark unlit paths alongside swollen rivers. The "consultation" (which, as a previous poster pointed out, is actually a decision) has been ill-thought out and bordering on the callous. But the response from Tilley does not surprise me — it is not the first time that I have come across extraordinary arrogance and patronising comments by certain OCC councillors.
In our village we will see 1 bus with FSM children going to the catchment school (because they can chose to walk 2.9 miles to nearest, bus to catchment or new bus route will be set as they can also choose a school which is 7 miles away that they previously would not have known was an option). The wealthy kids might choose to pay for a seat on the FSM bus but after many discussions it is more likely that they will drive. Those who can't afford the bus but earn enough to not quality for FSM will be walking for an hour each way to a new school. Talk about social division.
[quote][p][bold]Paddy Landau[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: What's the point of a "catchment" school being further away than the closest school? It doesn't make sense. Essentially, at some point in history, someone has been frightened to make an absolute decision over official "catchment" areas - which has left the county with the problem is has now. It's time to sort it out now. After 6 years when the shuffling is complete and the links have been "cut" - people will wonder why children were ever forced onto coaches and driven for miles.[/p][/quote]I cannot speak for the whole country, but in my area, the local primary school and the catchment school have deep and lasting links spanning, literally, several generations. Having some children (inevitably from the poorer families) attend the closest school while the remainder attend the catchment school (which, incidentally, is faster and easier to reach than the closest school) will lead to class divisions within our village based on income. The savings made by the council would be trivial, unless the council enforces its stated walking route, which in the winter takes the children through dark unlit flood plains (heavily flooded, of course) and on equally dark unlit paths alongside swollen rivers. The "consultation" (which, as a previous poster pointed out, is actually a decision) has been ill-thought out and bordering on the callous. But the response from Tilley does not surprise me — it is not the first time that I have come across extraordinary arrogance and patronising comments by certain OCC councillors.[/p][/quote]In our village we will see 1 bus with FSM children going to the catchment school (because they can chose to walk 2.9 miles to nearest, bus to catchment or new bus route will be set as they can also choose a school which is 7 miles away that they previously would not have known was an option). The wealthy kids might choose to pay for a seat on the FSM bus but after many discussions it is more likely that they will drive. Those who can't afford the bus but earn enough to not quality for FSM will be walking for an hour each way to a new school. Talk about social division. Segdirb22
  • Score: 0

5:08pm Tue 14 Jan 14

1822Kim says...

Oxon council taxpayer wrote:
alu355 wrote:
I think it would be helpful for parents who are against these proposals to state how they would suggest OCC saves the £41 million that it needs to save. No councillor likes making these decisions but they have to be made.

There was an article in the Oxford Mail about 91 taxis being used for 91 pupils to get them to and from school, surely a large saving can be made there.
Any other ideas?
Taxis are the least cost efficient mode of transport however by the OCCs own admission their use is likely to increase in many rural locations as pupils are redirected to their nearest school not their catchment school. In our village it will go from one large bus to three smaller ones under the new proposal - how does that reduce costs, pollution, traffic?. This proposal will never realise £41m in savings and for a number of years will probably cost more.
I don't think anyone supporting these proposals deny that money needs to be saved and the the Council need to do this. What we as parents are very strongly arguing is the lack of information and proof showing that a substantial saving is being made from these proposals. The Council have repeadetedly been unable to justify their savings. The figures the Council have quoted as been the projected savings just do not add up. This has been proved many many times as OCC do not appear to have taken many factors into account. They assume that the majority of parents will simply use their cars to take their children to schools. Many parents will find this impossible due to children attending other schools and work commitments. Are the residents of Oxfordshire prepared for increased traffic chaos with hundreds more cars taking to the roads? More risk of accident and injury to children, increased parking chaos around already busy school gates, more pollution to the environment, more working parents unable to carry on working and claiming benefits. The list is endless!!!
[quote][p][bold]Oxon council taxpayer[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: I think it would be helpful for parents who are against these proposals to state how they would suggest OCC saves the £41 million that it needs to save. No councillor likes making these decisions but they have to be made. There was an article in the Oxford Mail about 91 taxis being used for 91 pupils to get them to and from school, surely a large saving can be made there. Any other ideas?[/p][/quote]Taxis are the least cost efficient mode of transport however by the OCCs own admission their use is likely to increase in many rural locations as pupils are redirected to their nearest school not their catchment school. In our village it will go from one large bus to three smaller ones under the new proposal - how does that reduce costs, pollution, traffic?. This proposal will never realise £41m in savings and for a number of years will probably cost more.[/p][/quote]I don't think anyone supporting these proposals deny that money needs to be saved and the the Council need to do this. What we as parents are very strongly arguing is the lack of information and proof showing that a substantial saving is being made from these proposals. The Council have repeadetedly been unable to justify their savings. The figures the Council have quoted as been the projected savings just do not add up. This has been proved many many times as OCC do not appear to have taken many factors into account. They assume that the majority of parents will simply use their cars to take their children to schools. Many parents will find this impossible due to children attending other schools and work commitments. Are the residents of Oxfordshire prepared for increased traffic chaos with hundreds more cars taking to the roads? More risk of accident and injury to children, increased parking chaos around already busy school gates, more pollution to the environment, more working parents unable to carry on working and claiming benefits. The list is endless!!! 1822Kim
  • Score: 8

5:45pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Shaun the Faun says...

Has Keith Mitchell had a sex-change?
Has Keith Mitchell had a sex-change? Shaun the Faun
  • Score: 7

6:15pm Tue 14 Jan 14

MHN123 says...

Suggestions to the council have been made that will result in significant savings whilst still providing a public transport system to catchment schools. To date, these suggestions have fallen on deaf ears.

Cost savings are possible without losing services
Suggestions to the council have been made that will result in significant savings whilst still providing a public transport system to catchment schools. To date, these suggestions have fallen on deaf ears. Cost savings are possible without losing services MHN123
  • Score: -1

7:25pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Chris Fyfe says...

I went to the consultation meeting at Bartholomew School n Eynsham where I was told that my daughter would only now get a bus to Henry Box in Witney because it was 0.1 miles nearer. When I pointed out that I drive both routes quite regularly and that Eynsham was a tiny bit nearer the Council official told me that my distances were wrong because they had also considered bridle paths when measuring the nearest school!

So the nearer school could easily be further for the bus to travel but this ludicrous proposal means that the bus will only be provided for a longer actual drive!

Maybe they think we have all got horses and could gallop to school!
I went to the consultation meeting at Bartholomew School n Eynsham where I was told that my daughter would only now get a bus to Henry Box in Witney because it was 0.1 miles nearer. When I pointed out that I drive both routes quite regularly and that Eynsham was a tiny bit nearer the Council official told me that my distances were wrong because they had also considered bridle paths when measuring the nearest school! So the nearer school could easily be further for the bus to travel but this ludicrous proposal means that the bus will only be provided for a longer actual drive! Maybe they think we have all got horses and could gallop to school! Chris Fyfe
  • Score: 5

8:39pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Oflife says...

We walked or bicycled to school when I was a lad. Hence, we have grown up healthy and free of obesity, cancer etc, whilst younger people are molly coddled today. When I become a parent, I'm moving such that my kids have to walk or bicycle to school, not take a bus. Better for the air, better for them.
We walked or bicycled to school when I was a lad. Hence, we have grown up healthy and free of obesity, cancer etc, whilst younger people are molly coddled today. When I become a parent, I'm moving such that my kids have to walk or bicycle to school, not take a bus. Better for the air, better for them. Oflife
  • Score: -26

9:01pm Tue 14 Jan 14

1822Kim says...

Oflife wrote:
We walked or bicycled to school when I was a lad. Hence, we have grown up healthy and free of obesity, cancer etc, whilst younger people are molly coddled today. When I become a parent, I'm moving such that my kids have to walk or bicycle to school, not take a bus. Better for the air, better for them.
A very wise response and possibly what many people of the older generation think too, but in this day and age with publicity surrounding abductions etc, I feel "when you become a parent" it may be a different story!!
[quote][p][bold]Oflife[/bold] wrote: We walked or bicycled to school when I was a lad. Hence, we have grown up healthy and free of obesity, cancer etc, whilst younger people are molly coddled today. When I become a parent, I'm moving such that my kids have to walk or bicycle to school, not take a bus. Better for the air, better for them.[/p][/quote]A very wise response and possibly what many people of the older generation think too, but in this day and age with publicity surrounding abductions etc, I feel "when you become a parent" it may be a different story!! 1822Kim
  • Score: 1

9:02pm Tue 14 Jan 14

1822Kim says...

A very wise response and possibly what many people of the older generation think too, but in this day and age with publicity surrounding abductions etc, I feel "when you become a parent" it may be a different story!!
A very wise response and possibly what many people of the older generation think too, but in this day and age with publicity surrounding abductions etc, I feel "when you become a parent" it may be a different story!! 1822Kim
  • Score: -1

9:04pm Tue 14 Jan 14

RegularGuy says...

Once again Cllr Tilley has ruined her own consultation by voicing her own trenchant views. She seems to be unable to leave the democratic process alone and has sought to unduly influence her colleagues. Worse, this is a nasty personal attack on well-meaning parents who are campaigning based on sound principles. Her cabinet position now looks untenable.
Once again Cllr Tilley has ruined her own consultation by voicing her own trenchant views. She seems to be unable to leave the democratic process alone and has sought to unduly influence her colleagues. Worse, this is a nasty personal attack on well-meaning parents who are campaigning based on sound principles. Her cabinet position now looks untenable. RegularGuy
  • Score: 7

9:15pm Tue 14 Jan 14

platinum195 says...

RegularGuy wrote:
Once again Cllr Tilley has ruined her own consultation by voicing her own trenchant views. She seems to be unable to leave the democratic process alone and has sought to unduly influence her colleagues. Worse, this is a nasty personal attack on well-meaning parents who are campaigning based on sound principles. Her cabinet position now looks untenable.
Spot on - If OCC are adamant these proposals have to go though why not just do it. It is very upsetting to think that they will listen to public opinion only to have the democratic dream shattered by Cll Tilley. Shame on you - you were voted in by a fair election but something suggests that won't happen again.
[quote][p][bold]RegularGuy[/bold] wrote: Once again Cllr Tilley has ruined her own consultation by voicing her own trenchant views. She seems to be unable to leave the democratic process alone and has sought to unduly influence her colleagues. Worse, this is a nasty personal attack on well-meaning parents who are campaigning based on sound principles. Her cabinet position now looks untenable.[/p][/quote]Spot on - If OCC are adamant these proposals have to go though why not just do it. It is very upsetting to think that they will listen to public opinion only to have the democratic dream shattered by Cll Tilley. Shame on you - you were voted in by a fair election but something suggests that won't happen again. platinum195
  • Score: 6

9:19pm Tue 14 Jan 14

platinum195 says...

Spot on - I feel totally let down by OCC. We have been encouraged to participate in the consultation process but to have the democratic dream shattered by Cllr Tilley is disgusting. Considering she was voted in by a fair election I would have thought better off her - somehow I think her days of winning elections are long gone.
Spot on - I feel totally let down by OCC. We have been encouraged to participate in the consultation process but to have the democratic dream shattered by Cllr Tilley is disgusting. Considering she was voted in by a fair election I would have thought better off her - somehow I think her days of winning elections are long gone. platinum195
  • Score: 2

9:25pm Tue 14 Jan 14

alu355 says...

I still haven't heard any examples of how people would prefer OCC to save the money it needs to save. This campaign would have better public support if it publicised positive suggestions.

The Children's Centre campaigns were successful because they offered to run certain services voluntarily and offered lots of other cost saving proposals.
I still haven't heard any examples of how people would prefer OCC to save the money it needs to save. This campaign would have better public support if it publicised positive suggestions. The Children's Centre campaigns were successful because they offered to run certain services voluntarily and offered lots of other cost saving proposals. alu355
  • Score: -41

9:38pm Tue 14 Jan 14

JWoodward says...

alu355 wrote:
I still haven't heard any examples of how people would prefer OCC to save the money it needs to save. This campaign would have better public support if it publicised positive suggestions.

The Children's Centre campaigns were successful because they offered to run certain services voluntarily and offered lots of other cost saving proposals.
It is difficult, for sure. One of the key issues with the current proposals is that the financial projections have been shown to be mainly a fiction. In the first few years, the costs would increase, as there would be a *lot* more cases of OCC having to run multiple buses from a given village to go to different schools. Any eventual savings are only made at the expense of additional congestion around schools, cars on roads, with all the issues around pollution and road safety that entails. So the current proposals are indubitably bad proposals, and come at very significant costs elsewhere (to parents, not least, but in road usage, road safety, etc) and also a potentially very disruptive impact on the entire school partnerships system which has been carefully nurtured over many years. Seen in the round, rather than from the perspective of one part of the council's budget, it's hard to see how the current proposals offer any real net gain.

As for the constructive suggestions you ask for. Well, yes, that's a challenge. I would look to the taxis budget as a starting point, and seek creative ways to bring that down, either by better negotiation with taxi firms or by more sharing or by finding volunteer drivers. Beyond that ... no, it's difficult to see how they can significantly cut school transport costs without incurring knock-on costs elsewhere as a result. But these people are put there to work for us, and to come up with the right ideas. The current proposals are the wrong idea - so they should go back and try harder. And, for goodness sake, look at what other councils are doing, rather than trying to work in a vacuum.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: I still haven't heard any examples of how people would prefer OCC to save the money it needs to save. This campaign would have better public support if it publicised positive suggestions. The Children's Centre campaigns were successful because they offered to run certain services voluntarily and offered lots of other cost saving proposals.[/p][/quote]It is difficult, for sure. One of the key issues with the current proposals is that the financial projections have been shown to be mainly a fiction. In the first few years, the costs would increase, as there would be a *lot* more cases of OCC having to run multiple buses from a given village to go to different schools. Any eventual savings are only made at the expense of additional congestion around schools, cars on roads, with all the issues around pollution and road safety that entails. So the current proposals are indubitably bad proposals, and come at very significant costs elsewhere (to parents, not least, but in road usage, road safety, etc) and also a potentially very disruptive impact on the entire school partnerships system which has been carefully nurtured over many years. Seen in the round, rather than from the perspective of one part of the council's budget, it's hard to see how the current proposals offer any real net gain. As for the constructive suggestions you ask for. Well, yes, that's a challenge. I would look to the taxis budget as a starting point, and seek creative ways to bring that down, either by better negotiation with taxi firms or by more sharing or by finding volunteer drivers. Beyond that ... no, it's difficult to see how they can significantly cut school transport costs without incurring knock-on costs elsewhere as a result. But these people are put there to work for us, and to come up with the right ideas. The current proposals are the wrong idea - so they should go back and try harder. And, for goodness sake, look at what other councils are doing, rather than trying to work in a vacuum. JWoodward
  • Score: 4

9:41pm Tue 14 Jan 14

RegularGuy says...

alu355 wrote:
I still haven't heard any examples of how people would prefer OCC to save the money it needs to save. This campaign would have better public support if it publicised positive suggestions.

The Children's Centre campaigns were successful because they offered to run certain services voluntarily and offered lots of other cost saving proposals.
Not sure this is the role of campaigners against cuts in an area where they are both not justified and unlikely to be achieved. However, maybe scrutinising OCC's billion pound property portfolio and town centre offices would be a better starting point?
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: I still haven't heard any examples of how people would prefer OCC to save the money it needs to save. This campaign would have better public support if it publicised positive suggestions. The Children's Centre campaigns were successful because they offered to run certain services voluntarily and offered lots of other cost saving proposals.[/p][/quote]Not sure this is the role of campaigners against cuts in an area where they are both not justified and unlikely to be achieved. However, maybe scrutinising OCC's billion pound property portfolio and town centre offices would be a better starting point? RegularGuy
  • Score: 4

10:16pm Tue 14 Jan 14

DoctorBob says...

The Tories doing what they do best and comes naturally to them, being nasty.
The Tories doing what they do best and comes naturally to them, being nasty. DoctorBob
  • Score: 3

10:18pm Tue 14 Jan 14

DoctorBob says...

platinum195 wrote:
Spot on - I feel totally let down by OCC. We have been encouraged to participate in the consultation process but to have the democratic dream shattered by Cllr Tilley is disgusting. Considering she was voted in by a fair election I would have thought better off her - somehow I think her days of winning elections are long gone.
You have been encouraged to engage in a process masquerading as consultation.

They put stuff out there to test the political response and then take the path of least political resistance.
[quote][p][bold]platinum195[/bold] wrote: Spot on - I feel totally let down by OCC. We have been encouraged to participate in the consultation process but to have the democratic dream shattered by Cllr Tilley is disgusting. Considering she was voted in by a fair election I would have thought better off her - somehow I think her days of winning elections are long gone.[/p][/quote]You have been encouraged to engage in a process masquerading as consultation. They put stuff out there to test the political response and then take the path of least political resistance. DoctorBob
  • Score: 1

10:27pm Tue 14 Jan 14

suemoon says...

alu355 wrote:
I still haven't heard any examples of how people would prefer OCC to save the money it needs to save. This campaign would have better public support if it publicised positive suggestions.

The Children's Centre campaigns were successful because they offered to run certain services voluntarily and offered lots of other cost saving proposals.
Better public support? This campaign could not have had better public support!

The Children's Centres message was a simple one for people to digest. Do we support them, or don't we. A no-brainer. Also, Children's Centres are used across the county in ALL areas.

The school transport proposals are VERY complicated. Have you read the proposal document? Do you understand it? have you thought through the multitude of nuanced local ramifications of driving this policy change through?

The support that OSBAG has received so far is extraordinary and public objection in terms of consultation responses is almost unprecedented at OCC. That is incredible when you consider that there are still County Councillors who have not grasped the implications of these changes. Indeed the Officers who wrote the proposals were corrected on local situations at the public meetings. If the people who wrote the proposals are struggling to make sense of the likely outcome of them, what chance do the rest of us have of doing so?

The other point to make is that this policy will affect a far smaller % of the population of the County than closure of Children's Centres would. It disproportionately affects those in rural areas who live closer to a different school from their catchment school.

Given this context, the campaign could not have wished for better support. If people didn't object they wouldn't like the facebook page (1,410 and climbing daily), wouldn't have signed the petition (+7,000 and increasing by close to 100 a day) and they wouldn't have battled with a complex set of proposals and difficult to understand feedback form (+2,000 for this consultation and the same number for the consultation in July) to register their heartfelt objections.

Councillor Tilley is very aware of the level of objection to these proposals. I have looked her in they eye and discussed this issue with her. She is wilfully disregarding a genuine campaign. This is disappointing and worrying. She has time between now and the vote on 4th Feb to engage responsibly with this consultation and make the only decision possible, to reject them when she is called upon to vote.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: I still haven't heard any examples of how people would prefer OCC to save the money it needs to save. This campaign would have better public support if it publicised positive suggestions. The Children's Centre campaigns were successful because they offered to run certain services voluntarily and offered lots of other cost saving proposals.[/p][/quote]Better public support? This campaign could not have had better public support! The Children's Centres message was a simple one for people to digest. Do we support them, or don't we. A no-brainer. Also, Children's Centres are used across the county in ALL areas. The school transport proposals are VERY complicated. Have you read the proposal document? Do you understand it? have you thought through the multitude of nuanced local ramifications of driving this policy change through? The support that OSBAG has received so far is extraordinary and public objection in terms of consultation responses is almost unprecedented at OCC. That is incredible when you consider that there are still County Councillors who have not grasped the implications of these changes. Indeed the Officers who wrote the proposals were corrected on local situations at the public meetings. If the people who wrote the proposals are struggling to make sense of the likely outcome of them, what chance do the rest of us have of doing so? The other point to make is that this policy will affect a far smaller % of the population of the County than closure of Children's Centres would. It disproportionately affects those in rural areas who live closer to a different school from their catchment school. Given this context, the campaign could not have wished for better support. If people didn't object they wouldn't like the facebook page (1,410 and climbing daily), wouldn't have signed the petition (+7,000 and increasing by close to 100 a day) and they wouldn't have battled with a complex set of proposals and difficult to understand feedback form (+2,000 for this consultation and the same number for the consultation in July) to register their heartfelt objections. Councillor Tilley is very aware of the level of objection to these proposals. I have looked her in they eye and discussed this issue with her. She is wilfully disregarding a genuine campaign. This is disappointing and worrying. She has time between now and the vote on 4th Feb to engage responsibly with this consultation and make the only decision possible, to reject them when she is called upon to vote. suemoon
  • Score: 7

10:27pm Tue 14 Jan 14

suemoon says...

alu355 wrote:
I still haven't heard any examples of how people would prefer OCC to save the money it needs to save. This campaign would have better public support if it publicised positive suggestions.

The Children's Centre campaigns were successful because they offered to run certain services voluntarily and offered lots of other cost saving proposals.
Better public support? This campaign could not have had better public support!

The Children's Centres message was a simple one for people to digest. Do we support them, or don't we. A no-brainer. Also, Children's Centres are used across the county in ALL areas.

The school transport proposals are VERY complicated. Have you read the proposal document? Do you understand it? have you thought through the multitude of nuanced local ramifications of driving this policy change through?

The support that OSBAG has received so far is extraordinary and public objection in terms of consultation responses is almost unprecedented at OCC. That is incredible when you consider that there are still County Councillors who have not grasped the implications of these changes. Indeed the Officers who wrote the proposals were corrected on local situations at the public meetings. If the people who wrote the proposals are struggling to make sense of the likely outcome of them, what chance do the rest of us have of doing so?

The other point to make is that this policy will affect a far smaller % of the population of the County than closure of Children's Centres would. It disproportionately affects those in rural areas who live closer to a different school from their catchment school.

Given this context, the campaign could not have wished for better support. If people didn't object they wouldn't like the facebook page (1,410 and climbing daily), wouldn't have signed the petition (+7,000 and increasing by close to 100 a day) and they wouldn't have battled with a complex set of proposals and difficult to understand feedback form (+2,000 for this consultation and the same number for the consultation in July) to register their heartfelt objections.

Councillor Tilley is very aware of the level of objection to these proposals. I have looked her in they eye and discussed this issue with her. She is wilfully disregarding a genuine campaign. This is disappointing and worrying. She has time between now and the vote on 4th Feb to engage responsibly with this consultation and make the only decision possible, to reject them when she is called upon to vote.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: I still haven't heard any examples of how people would prefer OCC to save the money it needs to save. This campaign would have better public support if it publicised positive suggestions. The Children's Centre campaigns were successful because they offered to run certain services voluntarily and offered lots of other cost saving proposals.[/p][/quote]Better public support? This campaign could not have had better public support! The Children's Centres message was a simple one for people to digest. Do we support them, or don't we. A no-brainer. Also, Children's Centres are used across the county in ALL areas. The school transport proposals are VERY complicated. Have you read the proposal document? Do you understand it? have you thought through the multitude of nuanced local ramifications of driving this policy change through? The support that OSBAG has received so far is extraordinary and public objection in terms of consultation responses is almost unprecedented at OCC. That is incredible when you consider that there are still County Councillors who have not grasped the implications of these changes. Indeed the Officers who wrote the proposals were corrected on local situations at the public meetings. If the people who wrote the proposals are struggling to make sense of the likely outcome of them, what chance do the rest of us have of doing so? The other point to make is that this policy will affect a far smaller % of the population of the County than closure of Children's Centres would. It disproportionately affects those in rural areas who live closer to a different school from their catchment school. Given this context, the campaign could not have wished for better support. If people didn't object they wouldn't like the facebook page (1,410 and climbing daily), wouldn't have signed the petition (+7,000 and increasing by close to 100 a day) and they wouldn't have battled with a complex set of proposals and difficult to understand feedback form (+2,000 for this consultation and the same number for the consultation in July) to register their heartfelt objections. Councillor Tilley is very aware of the level of objection to these proposals. I have looked her in they eye and discussed this issue with her. She is wilfully disregarding a genuine campaign. This is disappointing and worrying. She has time between now and the vote on 4th Feb to engage responsibly with this consultation and make the only decision possible, to reject them when she is called upon to vote. suemoon
  • Score: 4

10:52pm Tue 14 Jan 14

alu355 says...

Still a lack of alternatives/suggest
ions. It is one thing to campaign against a closure / cutback to a service but another to be in a position of responsibility and have to make these savings. Not condoning anything that this councilor has said but in my opinion the better thing to have done would have been to focus on the points rather than the personalities.

As for 'only decision possible', I think there are several possible outcomes based on the consultation questions and yes I have read the entire documentation several times as well as having responded to the consultation.
Still a lack of alternatives/suggest ions. It is one thing to campaign against a closure / cutback to a service but another to be in a position of responsibility and have to make these savings. Not condoning anything that this councilor has said but in my opinion the better thing to have done would have been to focus on the points rather than the personalities. As for 'only decision possible', I think there are several possible outcomes based on the consultation questions and yes I have read the entire documentation several times as well as having responded to the consultation. alu355
  • Score: -11

10:56pm Tue 14 Jan 14

bps says...

Oflife wrote:
We walked or bicycled to school when I was a lad. Hence, we have grown up healthy and free of obesity, cancer etc, whilst younger people are molly coddled today. When I become a parent, I'm moving such that my kids have to walk or bicycle to school, not take a bus. Better for the air, better for them.
I am a parent of a secondary-age child. I went to secondary school in rural south Oxfordshire more than 30 years ago, and we had a bus because it was too far and too dangerous. It still is.
Under these proposals most of my village would be sent to school in *Buckinghamshire* (which still has a grammar school system), to a school that has never had any ties to the village at all. And they'd still need to go by bus, because it's too far and too dangerous to walk (or, for the pre-teens at least, to cycle). The impact on both the village primaries and the secondary school losing those village pupils will be immense and very disruptive. There's a lot more at stake than "mollycoddled" kids.
[quote][p][bold]Oflife[/bold] wrote: We walked or bicycled to school when I was a lad. Hence, we have grown up healthy and free of obesity, cancer etc, whilst younger people are molly coddled today. When I become a parent, I'm moving such that my kids have to walk or bicycle to school, not take a bus. Better for the air, better for them.[/p][/quote]I am a parent of a secondary-age child. I went to secondary school in rural south Oxfordshire more than 30 years ago, and we had a bus because it was too far and too dangerous. It still is. Under these proposals most of my village would be sent to school in *Buckinghamshire* (which still has a grammar school system), to a school that has never had any ties to the village at all. And they'd still need to go by bus, because it's too far and too dangerous to walk (or, for the pre-teens at least, to cycle). The impact on both the village primaries and the secondary school losing those village pupils will be immense and very disruptive. There's a lot more at stake than "mollycoddled" kids. bps
  • Score: 8

11:03pm Tue 14 Jan 14

suemoon says...

alu355 wrote:
Still a lack of alternatives/suggest

ions. It is one thing to campaign against a closure / cutback to a service but another to be in a position of responsibility and have to make these savings. Not condoning anything that this councilor has said but in my opinion the better thing to have done would have been to focus on the points rather than the personalities.

As for 'only decision possible', I think there are several possible outcomes based on the consultation questions and yes I have read the entire documentation several times as well as having responded to the consultation.
We met with Councillor Hudspeth in August and presented him with a clear case for establishing 'catchment transport Areas' these would freeze existing catchments and comit the Council to only providing the statutory minimum for any new free schools or academies. This future-proofs the Council from the 'significant threat' the Officers insisted exists. The Council have ignored this suggestion of a solution that has been successfully adopted elsewhere, not even making it an option for consideration as part of the consultation.

It is not our job to find savings as we do not have all of the information regarding service provision, budgets and tendering at our fingertips as the Council do. We have spent months drawing this information out of the Officers. We have used what they have given us to establish that their savings calculations are guesswork. We have done our own and estimated that the savings could be £250k or they could be zero. Or, this proposal could even end up costing the Council money. Still seem like such a good idea?
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: Still a lack of alternatives/suggest ions. It is one thing to campaign against a closure / cutback to a service but another to be in a position of responsibility and have to make these savings. Not condoning anything that this councilor has said but in my opinion the better thing to have done would have been to focus on the points rather than the personalities. As for 'only decision possible', I think there are several possible outcomes based on the consultation questions and yes I have read the entire documentation several times as well as having responded to the consultation.[/p][/quote]We met with Councillor Hudspeth in August and presented him with a clear case for establishing 'catchment transport Areas' these would freeze existing catchments and comit the Council to only providing the statutory minimum for any new free schools or academies. This future-proofs the Council from the 'significant threat' the Officers insisted exists. The Council have ignored this suggestion of a solution that has been successfully adopted elsewhere, not even making it an option for consideration as part of the consultation. It is not our job to find savings as we do not have all of the information regarding service provision, budgets and tendering at our fingertips as the Council do. We have spent months drawing this information out of the Officers. We have used what they have given us to establish that their savings calculations are guesswork. We have done our own and estimated that the savings could be £250k or they could be zero. Or, this proposal could even end up costing the Council money. Still seem like such a good idea? suemoon
  • Score: 7

11:06pm Tue 14 Jan 14

suemoon says...

alu355 wrote:
Still a lack of alternatives/suggest

ions. It is one thing to campaign against a closure / cutback to a service but another to be in a position of responsibility and have to make these savings. Not condoning anything that this councilor has said but in my opinion the better thing to have done would have been to focus on the points rather than the personalities.

As for 'only decision possible', I think there are several possible outcomes based on the consultation questions and yes I have read the entire documentation several times as well as having responded to the consultation.
You say it would have been better to focus on "points rather than personalities". This is what OSBAG has done throughout, which is why it is so sad that the Councillor, a Cabinet member felt it appropriate to rubbish us. We will continue to campaign in a focused and responsible way. We sincerely hope that Councillor Tilley demonstrates fair and objective judgement when she meets with Cabinet colleagues on 4th Feb.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: Still a lack of alternatives/suggest ions. It is one thing to campaign against a closure / cutback to a service but another to be in a position of responsibility and have to make these savings. Not condoning anything that this councilor has said but in my opinion the better thing to have done would have been to focus on the points rather than the personalities. As for 'only decision possible', I think there are several possible outcomes based on the consultation questions and yes I have read the entire documentation several times as well as having responded to the consultation.[/p][/quote]You say it would have been better to focus on "points rather than personalities". This is what OSBAG has done throughout, which is why it is so sad that the Councillor, a Cabinet member felt it appropriate to rubbish us. We will continue to campaign in a focused and responsible way. We sincerely hope that Councillor Tilley demonstrates fair and objective judgement when she meets with Cabinet colleagues on 4th Feb. suemoon
  • Score: 6

11:14pm Tue 14 Jan 14

alu355 says...

The issue remains that even with the catchment transport areas there would not be any saving and the council needs to make savings. Whether or not these proposals make any savings is part of the matter but there is space on the consultation to suggest alternative ways to make savings. I think it is all our jobs to suggest ways that the council can save money, for example I recently organised a local volunteer street clean. Keeping services at the levels they have been in the past just isn't possible, much as we would all like it to be.
The issue remains that even with the catchment transport areas there would not be any saving and the council needs to make savings. Whether or not these proposals make any savings is part of the matter but there is space on the consultation to suggest alternative ways to make savings. I think it is all our jobs to suggest ways that the council can save money, for example I recently organised a local volunteer street clean. Keeping services at the levels they have been in the past just isn't possible, much as we would all like it to be. alu355
  • Score: -17

12:09am Wed 15 Jan 14

Oxon council taxpayer says...

Oflife wrote:
We walked or bicycled to school when I was a lad. Hence, we have grown up healthy and free of obesity, cancer etc, whilst younger people are molly coddled today. When I become a parent, I'm moving such that my kids have to walk or bicycle to school, not take a bus. Better for the air, better for them.
Without wanting to be ageist seeing that provision of school buses has been on the statute books since 1944 arent you a bit old for starting a family??
Joking aside many people get rather misty eyed about how they got to school as a child but the fact of the matter is that they werent contending with modern levels of traffic and its implications.
Government policy in this area is driven not the desire to molly coddle but by cost. Killing and maiming kids in traffic accidents is significantly more costly(£2M per fatality) than providing safe modes of transport such as cycleways or buses. Pedestrian children are vastly more likely to be involved in an accident than any other group in the population so much so that the Department of Transport maintains specific data on it which is well worth reading. Buses statistically are the safest mode of transport by a large margin therefore providing buses actually reduces both the financial and human cost of getting kids to school. Buses are also best for the environment by reducing road traffic trips especially when you consider that over 20% of all cars are currently engaged in 'school runs' on a regular basis. It is these elements of joined up government that OCC has willfully ignored
[quote][p][bold]Oflife[/bold] wrote: We walked or bicycled to school when I was a lad. Hence, we have grown up healthy and free of obesity, cancer etc, whilst younger people are molly coddled today. When I become a parent, I'm moving such that my kids have to walk or bicycle to school, not take a bus. Better for the air, better for them.[/p][/quote]Without wanting to be ageist seeing that provision of school buses has been on the statute books since 1944 arent you a bit old for starting a family?? Joking aside many people get rather misty eyed about how they got to school as a child but the fact of the matter is that they werent contending with modern levels of traffic and its implications. Government policy in this area is driven not the desire to molly coddle but by cost. Killing and maiming kids in traffic accidents is significantly more costly(£2M per fatality) than providing safe modes of transport such as cycleways or buses. Pedestrian children are vastly more likely to be involved in an accident than any other group in the population so much so that the Department of Transport maintains specific data on it which is well worth reading. Buses statistically are the safest mode of transport by a large margin therefore providing buses actually reduces both the financial and human cost of getting kids to school. Buses are also best for the environment by reducing road traffic trips especially when you consider that over 20% of all cars are currently engaged in 'school runs' on a regular basis. It is these elements of joined up government that OCC has willfully ignored Oxon council taxpayer
  • Score: -1

12:34am Wed 15 Jan 14

Oxon council taxpayer says...

alu355 wrote:
The issue remains that even with the catchment transport areas there would not be any saving and the council needs to make savings. Whether or not these proposals make any savings is part of the matter but there is space on the consultation to suggest alternative ways to make savings. I think it is all our jobs to suggest ways that the council can save money, for example I recently organised a local volunteer street clean. Keeping services at the levels they have been in the past just isn't possible, much as we would all like it to be.
It is also all our jobs to scrutinise poorly conceived proposals and point out that they will increase cost not reduce them.
The fact is that OCC have to provide school transport by law so there will always be a cost that cannot be avoided thus we must seek to minimise that cost by being efficient. However the problem OCC havent grasped is that the bare legal minimum is not the most efficient and can be more costly than for example running a single catchment bus.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: The issue remains that even with the catchment transport areas there would not be any saving and the council needs to make savings. Whether or not these proposals make any savings is part of the matter but there is space on the consultation to suggest alternative ways to make savings. I think it is all our jobs to suggest ways that the council can save money, for example I recently organised a local volunteer street clean. Keeping services at the levels they have been in the past just isn't possible, much as we would all like it to be.[/p][/quote]It is also all our jobs to scrutinise poorly conceived proposals and point out that they will increase cost not reduce them. The fact is that OCC have to provide school transport by law so there will always be a cost that cannot be avoided thus we must seek to minimise that cost by being efficient. However the problem OCC havent grasped is that the bare legal minimum is not the most efficient and can be more costly than for example running a single catchment bus. Oxon council taxpayer
  • Score: 1

12:40am Wed 15 Jan 14

KateBarlow says...

It is incredible that Cllr Tilley considers her remarks appropriate. Parents care passionately about their children's education and will go to great lengths to protect it. There is an implication in her remarks that the Council will exploit these parents (aka voters) in order to achieve their (questionable) cost savings. She has lost credibility in her role as someone representing families on OCC. Isn't it time for her to go?
It is incredible that Cllr Tilley considers her remarks appropriate. Parents care passionately about their children's education and will go to great lengths to protect it. There is an implication in her remarks that the Council will exploit these parents (aka voters) in order to achieve their (questionable) cost savings. She has lost credibility in her role as someone representing families on OCC. Isn't it time for her to go? KateBarlow
  • Score: 2

8:46am Wed 15 Jan 14

alu355 says...

Oxon council taxpayer wrote:
alu355 wrote:
The issue remains that even with the catchment transport areas there would not be any saving and the council needs to make savings. Whether or not these proposals make any savings is part of the matter but there is space on the consultation to suggest alternative ways to make savings. I think it is all our jobs to suggest ways that the council can save money, for example I recently organised a local volunteer street clean. Keeping services at the levels they have been in the past just isn't possible, much as we would all like it to be.
It is also all our jobs to scrutinise poorly conceived proposals and point out that they will increase cost not reduce them.
The fact is that OCC have to provide school transport by law so there will always be a cost that cannot be avoided thus we must seek to minimise that cost by being efficient. However the problem OCC havent grasped is that the bare legal minimum is not the most efficient and can be more costly than for example running a single catchment bus.
Agree that we should scrutinise proposals where the claimed cost savings are not accurate however I still think it would be good if the campaign to keep the buses makes suggestions similar to those made by other campaigns to save services such as libraries and Childrens' Centres.

OCC are down to being able to only run the bare minimum legally obliged services so it is understandable that they will look at areas where they are providing 'more' than that.
[quote][p][bold]Oxon council taxpayer[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: The issue remains that even with the catchment transport areas there would not be any saving and the council needs to make savings. Whether or not these proposals make any savings is part of the matter but there is space on the consultation to suggest alternative ways to make savings. I think it is all our jobs to suggest ways that the council can save money, for example I recently organised a local volunteer street clean. Keeping services at the levels they have been in the past just isn't possible, much as we would all like it to be.[/p][/quote]It is also all our jobs to scrutinise poorly conceived proposals and point out that they will increase cost not reduce them. The fact is that OCC have to provide school transport by law so there will always be a cost that cannot be avoided thus we must seek to minimise that cost by being efficient. However the problem OCC havent grasped is that the bare legal minimum is not the most efficient and can be more costly than for example running a single catchment bus.[/p][/quote]Agree that we should scrutinise proposals where the claimed cost savings are not accurate however I still think it would be good if the campaign to keep the buses makes suggestions similar to those made by other campaigns to save services such as libraries and Childrens' Centres. OCC are down to being able to only run the bare minimum legally obliged services so it is understandable that they will look at areas where they are providing 'more' than that. alu355
  • Score: -10

9:42am Wed 15 Jan 14

Maclennane says...

alu355 wrote:
I still haven't heard any examples of how people would prefer OCC to save the money it needs to save. This campaign would have better public support if it publicised positive suggestions.

The Children's Centre campaigns were successful because they offered to run certain services voluntarily and offered lots of other cost saving proposals.
The Childrens' Centres campaign, in which I was involved, was simply a Facebook-based group of concerned parents. Unsurprisingly, Cllr Hudspeth never ushered us into his office to consult us on how best to run Children's Centres cost-effectively - that sort of thing is obviously the job of professionals. So this comment is nonsense.
That campaign was incredibly successful, in that the Council completely reversed its position on closing the vast majority of centres - but I am still frankly at a loss to understand how and why the Council went from this extreme to the other. I suspect it may have quite a lot to do with David Cameron being a local MP, and a sudden additional 10 million grant from central government to pay for the county's adult social care, thus avoiding the need for deep cuts to Children's Centres. I very much hope that OXBAG's campaign gets a break like this. But I fear that, for many reasons, they have it much tougher than we did. Good luck to them, because they're doing a fantastic job.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: I still haven't heard any examples of how people would prefer OCC to save the money it needs to save. This campaign would have better public support if it publicised positive suggestions. The Children's Centre campaigns were successful because they offered to run certain services voluntarily and offered lots of other cost saving proposals.[/p][/quote]The Childrens' Centres campaign, in which I was involved, was simply a Facebook-based group of concerned parents. Unsurprisingly, Cllr Hudspeth never ushered us into his office to consult us on how best to run Children's Centres cost-effectively - that sort of thing is obviously the job of professionals. So this comment is nonsense. That campaign was incredibly successful, in that the Council completely reversed its position on closing the vast majority of centres - but I am still frankly at a loss to understand how and why the Council went from this extreme to the other. I suspect it may have quite a lot to do with David Cameron being a local MP, and a sudden additional 10 million grant from central government to pay for the county's adult social care, thus avoiding the need for deep cuts to Children's Centres. I very much hope that OXBAG's campaign gets a break like this. But I fear that, for many reasons, they have it much tougher than we did. Good luck to them, because they're doing a fantastic job. Maclennane
  • Score: 9

10:04am Wed 15 Jan 14

rpt451 says...

alu355 wrote:
The issue remains that even with the catchment transport areas there would not be any saving and the council needs to make savings. Whether or not these proposals make any savings is part of the matter but there is space on the consultation to suggest alternative ways to make savings. I think it is all our jobs to suggest ways that the council can save money, for example I recently organised a local volunteer street clean. Keeping services at the levels they have been in the past just isn't possible, much as we would all like it to be.
A factor in the cost of school transport provision is that all the buses are required at the same time of day. One option is to adjust school hours so that one vehicle can service two schools each day. This would be cheaper for the bus companies to provide. It has been said that this is not an option because the council does not set school hours; the schools themselves do that. But surely we should expect the council to work together with schools. It seems unlikely that schools would not be willing to work with the council to examine the possibilities here; particularly since the stability of many such schools is threatened by the current proposals. Maybe it wouldn't be feasible but it seems like an option worthy of investigation.

Another option would be greater integration of school transport with public transport. That is to say that public bus services should provide transport on many of the school routes and should be used by many more school children. The savings obtained by using integrated public transport would come from the scale of operations. That is to say, the companies providing public buses tend to be large organisations who can minimise costs in terms of servicing and repair and by having a fleet which requires smaller numbers of surplus/backup buses to provide reliable services. Furthermore, in many cases it would be possible to run routes which may go via business parks, city centres etc. but are still suitable for the schoolchildren. This would provide an additional service for the communities served and additional revenue for the bus companies. It would require the bus companies to have more buses and it would not be trivial to implement but there are opportunities to make savings and there are many win-win aspects.

These are just two possibilities. But even if there weren't alternatives the damaging nature of the current proposals, combined with the likelihood that they would have at best small or zero savings (they could easilly lead to increased costs to the council), mean they should be rejected.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: The issue remains that even with the catchment transport areas there would not be any saving and the council needs to make savings. Whether or not these proposals make any savings is part of the matter but there is space on the consultation to suggest alternative ways to make savings. I think it is all our jobs to suggest ways that the council can save money, for example I recently organised a local volunteer street clean. Keeping services at the levels they have been in the past just isn't possible, much as we would all like it to be.[/p][/quote]A factor in the cost of school transport provision is that all the buses are required at the same time of day. One option is to adjust school hours so that one vehicle can service two schools each day. This would be cheaper for the bus companies to provide. It has been said that this is not an option because the council does not set school hours; the schools themselves do that. But surely we should expect the council to work together with schools. It seems unlikely that schools would not be willing to work with the council to examine the possibilities here; particularly since the stability of many such schools is threatened by the current proposals. Maybe it wouldn't be feasible but it seems like an option worthy of investigation. Another option would be greater integration of school transport with public transport. That is to say that public bus services should provide transport on many of the school routes and should be used by many more school children. The savings obtained by using integrated public transport would come from the scale of operations. That is to say, the companies providing public buses tend to be large organisations who can minimise costs in terms of servicing and repair and by having a fleet which requires smaller numbers of surplus/backup buses to provide reliable services. Furthermore, in many cases it would be possible to run routes which may go via business parks, city centres etc. but are still suitable for the schoolchildren. This would provide an additional service for the communities served and additional revenue for the bus companies. It would require the bus companies to have more buses and it would not be trivial to implement but there are opportunities to make savings and there are many win-win aspects. These are just two possibilities. But even if there weren't alternatives the damaging nature of the current proposals, combined with the likelihood that they would have at best small or zero savings (they could easilly lead to increased costs to the council), mean they should be rejected. rpt451
  • Score: 9

12:35pm Wed 15 Jan 14

alu355 says...

The idea of buses being shared with local businesses is a good one, you have a situation in Oxford for example where there are school buses which do the same routes as people going to employment centres but they are not allowed to take anyone other than school children on board, not even their parents. This leads to the crazy situation where there are buses with seats empty but the parent has to drive the child to school.
The idea of buses being shared with local businesses is a good one, you have a situation in Oxford for example where there are school buses which do the same routes as people going to employment centres but they are not allowed to take anyone other than school children on board, not even their parents. This leads to the crazy situation where there are buses with seats empty but the parent has to drive the child to school. alu355
  • Score: -6

1:32pm Wed 15 Jan 14

RegularGuy says...

alu355 wrote:
The issue remains that even with the catchment transport areas there would not be any saving and the council needs to make savings. Whether or not these proposals make any savings is part of the matter but there is space on the consultation to suggest alternative ways to make savings. I think it is all our jobs to suggest ways that the council can save money, for example I recently organised a local volunteer street clean. Keeping services at the levels they have been in the past just isn't possible, much as we would all like it to be.
Alu, I think everyone knows the current economic reality, but the argument centres on the fact that there is no saving to be gained with these proposals!

The council admits that it doesn't want parents to change where they send their kids to school, they just want them to start paying £600 a year. In reality though, given how stretched incomes are, parents will instead have to send their child to the nearest/cheapest school. OCC will have to pay to get them there.

There are many areas of high cost which OCC has ignored. I'm not advocating it, but selling one vacant building or closing the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock (who knew it was there?) would yield far more, and from day 1.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: The issue remains that even with the catchment transport areas there would not be any saving and the council needs to make savings. Whether or not these proposals make any savings is part of the matter but there is space on the consultation to suggest alternative ways to make savings. I think it is all our jobs to suggest ways that the council can save money, for example I recently organised a local volunteer street clean. Keeping services at the levels they have been in the past just isn't possible, much as we would all like it to be.[/p][/quote]Alu, I think everyone knows the current economic reality, but the argument centres on the fact that there is no saving to be gained with these proposals! The council admits that it doesn't want parents to change where they send their kids to school, they just want them to start paying £600 a year. In reality though, given how stretched incomes are, parents will instead have to send their child to the nearest/cheapest school. OCC will have to pay to get them there. There are many areas of high cost which OCC has ignored. I'm not advocating it, but selling one vacant building or closing the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock (who knew it was there?) would yield far more, and from day 1. RegularGuy
  • Score: 1

1:56pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Oxon council taxpayer says...

alu355 wrote:
The idea of buses being shared with local businesses is a good one, you have a situation in Oxford for example where there are school buses which do the same routes as people going to employment centres but they are not allowed to take anyone other than school children on board, not even their parents. This leads to the crazy situation where there are buses with seats empty but the parent has to drive the child to school.
Whilst a suggestion of merit school buses are not the same as public transport but are regulated activity under the School Bus(Safety) Bill 2008 which was in response to things like the M40 minibus crash and several high profile sex assault cases. For example school bus drivers must hold a valid CRB check for that activity and the buses must comply with additional safety requirements. Im sure the proposal would work right up until the first allegation against an unvetted passenger who has access to children on buses.
[quote][p][bold]alu355[/bold] wrote: The idea of buses being shared with local businesses is a good one, you have a situation in Oxford for example where there are school buses which do the same routes as people going to employment centres but they are not allowed to take anyone other than school children on board, not even their parents. This leads to the crazy situation where there are buses with seats empty but the parent has to drive the child to school.[/p][/quote]Whilst a suggestion of merit school buses are not the same as public transport but are regulated activity under the School Bus(Safety) Bill 2008 which was in response to things like the M40 minibus crash and several high profile sex assault cases. For example school bus drivers must hold a valid CRB check for that activity and the buses must comply with additional safety requirements. Im sure the proposal would work right up until the first allegation against an unvetted passenger who has access to children on buses. Oxon council taxpayer
  • Score: -6

2:19pm Wed 15 Jan 14

yabbadabbadoo256 says...

I would imagine a certain counciller has brought her office into disrepute and should be heavily disciplined or step down immediately.
I would imagine a certain counciller has brought her office into disrepute and should be heavily disciplined or step down immediately. yabbadabbadoo256
  • Score: -6

2:34pm Wed 15 Jan 14

lsumner says...

Once the threat of implementating a damaging proposal are off the cards then people will have more time to spend on considering potential cost savings (even if it is not their job most are happy to engage as all understand times are economically difficult). Given the small margin of savings (if any) alternative assessments of proposals have shown to be more realistic it should not be difficult to drive down costs. Firstly, contracts with service provides should be renegotiated. Some of the per-head costs quoted for a seat on the bus made for eye-wateringly expensive services, the Council are meant to have procurement specialists who should be able to negotiate better deals. Secondly, identifying where bus routes could be shared with the wider public for secondary/sixth form routes is a good potential suggestion. Many of London's school children use public transport (pass provided free by government) and ths makes sense. Thirdly, the taxi provision clearly has spiralled and a better solution could be found quite easily with some sensible consideration of the factors involved. Fourthy, it has alreay been suggested numerous times that catchment areas are frozen to prevent unsustainable growth in demand if more academeis/free schools are created with open catchments. Fifthy, how are the school-buses used during the day time? Can there be additional savings made by using buses to support other transport needs schools have (e.g. for swimming lessons, school trips etc). A bus is a resource which I hope does not sit dormant during school hours, if they do then i'm sure some more innovative service providers could be found who could work out how to capitalise on this time. But I'm not an expert in these things. OCC as the body legally obliged to ensure the required services are provided should have presented a much better thought out consultation. Cutting isn't always the best solution, innovation is much smarter.
Once the threat of implementating a damaging proposal are off the cards then people will have more time to spend on considering potential cost savings (even if it is not their job most are happy to engage as all understand times are economically difficult). Given the small margin of savings (if any) alternative assessments of proposals have shown to be more realistic it should not be difficult to drive down costs. Firstly, contracts with service provides should be renegotiated. Some of the per-head costs quoted for a seat on the bus made for eye-wateringly expensive services, the Council are meant to have procurement specialists who should be able to negotiate better deals. Secondly, identifying where bus routes could be shared with the wider public for secondary/sixth form routes is a good potential suggestion. Many of London's school children use public transport (pass provided free by government) and ths makes sense. Thirdly, the taxi provision clearly has spiralled and a better solution could be found quite easily with some sensible consideration of the factors involved. Fourthy, it has alreay been suggested numerous times that catchment areas are frozen to prevent unsustainable growth in demand if more academeis/free schools are created with open catchments. Fifthy, how are the school-buses used during the day time? Can there be additional savings made by using buses to support other transport needs schools have (e.g. for swimming lessons, school trips etc). A bus is a resource which I hope does not sit dormant during school hours, if they do then i'm sure some more innovative service providers could be found who could work out how to capitalise on this time. But I'm not an expert in these things. OCC as the body legally obliged to ensure the required services are provided should have presented a much better thought out consultation. Cutting isn't always the best solution, innovation is much smarter. lsumner
  • Score: 4

2:35pm Wed 15 Jan 14

lsumner says...

Once the threat of implementing a damaging proposal are off the cards then people will have more time to spend on considering potential cost savings (even if it is not their job most are happy to engage as all understand times are economically difficult). Given the small margin of savings (if any) alternative assessments of proposals have shown to be more realistic it should not be difficult to drive down costs. Firstly, contracts with service provides should be renegotiated. Some of the per-head costs quoted for a seat on the bus made for eye-wateringly expensive services, the Council are meant to have procurement specialists who should be able to negotiate better deals. Secondly, identifying where bus routes could be shared with the wider public for secondary/sixth form routes is a good potential suggestion. Many of London's school children use public transport (pass provided free by government) and this makes sense. Thirdly, the taxi provision clearly has spiralled and a better solution could be found quite easily with some sensible consideration of the factors involved. Fourthly, it has already been suggested numerous times that catchment areas are frozen to prevent unsustainable growth in demand if more academies/free schools are created with open catchments. Fifthly, how are the school-buses used during the day time? Can there be additional savings made by using buses to support other transport needs schools have (e.g. for swimming lessons, school trips etc). A bus is a resource which I hope does not sit dormant during school hours, if they do then I’m sure some more innovative service providers could be found who could work out how to capitalise on this time. But I'm not an expert in these things. OCC as the body legally obliged to ensure the required services are provided should have presented a much better thought out consultation. Cutting isn't always the best solution, innovation is much smarter.
Once the threat of implementing a damaging proposal are off the cards then people will have more time to spend on considering potential cost savings (even if it is not their job most are happy to engage as all understand times are economically difficult). Given the small margin of savings (if any) alternative assessments of proposals have shown to be more realistic it should not be difficult to drive down costs. Firstly, contracts with service provides should be renegotiated. Some of the per-head costs quoted for a seat on the bus made for eye-wateringly expensive services, the Council are meant to have procurement specialists who should be able to negotiate better deals. Secondly, identifying where bus routes could be shared with the wider public for secondary/sixth form routes is a good potential suggestion. Many of London's school children use public transport (pass provided free by government) and this makes sense. Thirdly, the taxi provision clearly has spiralled and a better solution could be found quite easily with some sensible consideration of the factors involved. Fourthly, it has already been suggested numerous times that catchment areas are frozen to prevent unsustainable growth in demand if more academies/free schools are created with open catchments. Fifthly, how are the school-buses used during the day time? Can there be additional savings made by using buses to support other transport needs schools have (e.g. for swimming lessons, school trips etc). A bus is a resource which I hope does not sit dormant during school hours, if they do then I’m sure some more innovative service providers could be found who could work out how to capitalise on this time. But I'm not an expert in these things. OCC as the body legally obliged to ensure the required services are provided should have presented a much better thought out consultation. Cutting isn't always the best solution, innovation is much smarter. lsumner
  • Score: 6

3:41pm Wed 15 Jan 14

bart-on simpson says...

http://www.oxfordmai
l.co.uk/news/1078216
4.Special_needs____7
_9m_taxi_bill/
http://www.oxfordmai l.co.uk/news/1078216 4.Special_needs____7 _9m_taxi_bill/ bart-on simpson
  • Score: 0

4:12pm Wed 15 Jan 14

RegularGuy says...

lsumner wrote:
Once the threat of implementing a damaging proposal are off the cards then people will have more time to spend on considering potential cost savings (even if it is not their job most are happy to engage as all understand times are economically difficult). Given the small margin of savings (if any) alternative assessments of proposals have shown to be more realistic it should not be difficult to drive down costs. Firstly, contracts with service provides should be renegotiated. Some of the per-head costs quoted for a seat on the bus made for eye-wateringly expensive services, the Council are meant to have procurement specialists who should be able to negotiate better deals. Secondly, identifying where bus routes could be shared with the wider public for secondary/sixth form routes is a good potential suggestion. Many of London's school children use public transport (pass provided free by government) and this makes sense. Thirdly, the taxi provision clearly has spiralled and a better solution could be found quite easily with some sensible consideration of the factors involved. Fourthly, it has already been suggested numerous times that catchment areas are frozen to prevent unsustainable growth in demand if more academies/free schools are created with open catchments. Fifthly, how are the school-buses used during the day time? Can there be additional savings made by using buses to support other transport needs schools have (e.g. for swimming lessons, school trips etc). A bus is a resource which I hope does not sit dormant during school hours, if they do then I’m sure some more innovative service providers could be found who could work out how to capitalise on this time. But I'm not an expert in these things. OCC as the body legally obliged to ensure the required services are provided should have presented a much better thought out consultation. Cutting isn't always the best solution, innovation is much smarter.
ISumner, you make some great points - you are in fact an expert at such things!
[quote][p][bold]lsumner[/bold] wrote: Once the threat of implementing a damaging proposal are off the cards then people will have more time to spend on considering potential cost savings (even if it is not their job most are happy to engage as all understand times are economically difficult). Given the small margin of savings (if any) alternative assessments of proposals have shown to be more realistic it should not be difficult to drive down costs. Firstly, contracts with service provides should be renegotiated. Some of the per-head costs quoted for a seat on the bus made for eye-wateringly expensive services, the Council are meant to have procurement specialists who should be able to negotiate better deals. Secondly, identifying where bus routes could be shared with the wider public for secondary/sixth form routes is a good potential suggestion. Many of London's school children use public transport (pass provided free by government) and this makes sense. Thirdly, the taxi provision clearly has spiralled and a better solution could be found quite easily with some sensible consideration of the factors involved. Fourthly, it has already been suggested numerous times that catchment areas are frozen to prevent unsustainable growth in demand if more academies/free schools are created with open catchments. Fifthly, how are the school-buses used during the day time? Can there be additional savings made by using buses to support other transport needs schools have (e.g. for swimming lessons, school trips etc). A bus is a resource which I hope does not sit dormant during school hours, if they do then I’m sure some more innovative service providers could be found who could work out how to capitalise on this time. But I'm not an expert in these things. OCC as the body legally obliged to ensure the required services are provided should have presented a much better thought out consultation. Cutting isn't always the best solution, innovation is much smarter.[/p][/quote]ISumner, you make some great points - you are in fact an expert at such things! RegularGuy
  • Score: -3

5:43pm Wed 15 Jan 14

alu355 says...

I hope that people in the group who clearly have an energy and passion can use this in helping OCC implement some of these suggestions.
When I tried to get a school bus off the ground in Oxford I was told that the reason bus operators wouldn't touch it is that they would have a bus and driver sitting around all day. The idea of staggered timetables, bus use sharing and parental assistance in running them are all areas that we should try and explore further.
I hope that people in the group who clearly have an energy and passion can use this in helping OCC implement some of these suggestions. When I tried to get a school bus off the ground in Oxford I was told that the reason bus operators wouldn't touch it is that they would have a bus and driver sitting around all day. The idea of staggered timetables, bus use sharing and parental assistance in running them are all areas that we should try and explore further. alu355
  • Score: -9

12:19am Thu 16 Jan 14

the wizard says...

This surely underlines the fact that more people now have to exercise their democratic right when elections for these positions come up again and remove these people who do not serve the public intrest from their positions, and vote for people who do wish to serve the public as opposed to those that have political ambition. Use your votes, its your right.

As for this numpty, she should do the honorable thing and resign, the sooner the better, she now has no confidence from the people she represents.
This surely underlines the fact that more people now have to exercise their democratic right when elections for these positions come up again and remove these people who do not serve the public intrest from their positions, and vote for people who do wish to serve the public as opposed to those that have political ambition. Use your votes, its your right. As for this numpty, she should do the honorable thing and resign, the sooner the better, she now has no confidence from the people she represents. the wizard
  • Score: -3

4:48pm Thu 16 Jan 14

Joe Schmoe says...

Melinda Tilley is woefully misinformed if she believes OSBAG is a ‘façade’ and does not represent the views of ‘real’ people. In each of the 4 public meetings I attended (without a T-shirt) the audience were cautioned that any views expressed during the meeting would not be taken into account when considering the proposals. Instead people were encouraged to respond to the consultation document via recognised channels. Thus, whether it was the hundreds of people that did attend the meetings or the 3 or 4 ‘usual suspects’ Cllr Tilley recognised as making contributions it should not matter one bit. If Cllr Tilley is in any doubt of the depth of feeling, she should know that on Tuesday hard copy responses from 450 individuals (many of them OSBAG ‘friends’) were delivered to OCC - all from just one village.

Time and time again OCC have ignored the exposed flaws in their projected savings. So very many excellently illustrated examples have been shared through facebook by OSBAG ‘friends’ and have shown that legal minimum does not necessarily equate to most cost effective. It seems that even if savings are not made, so long as council officials are seen to be trying to make some this is good enough. It is not. Every taxpayer in Oxfordshire deserves better than this, as do the children whose futures will be affected.

Central Government website states: ‘’We believe it is unacceptable for children’s success to be determined by their social circumstances.’’ This ideal to protect the most vulnerable is sadly not upheld by OCC in these proposals. The legal minimum would not oblige OCC to provide transport to catchment school for ANY child in the village I live in, INCLUDING those on the lowest incomes. These are children incidentally that the State already recognises as disadvantaged to such an extent they attract a Pupil Premium. Even though the difference between nearest and catchment school for residents in our village is under 2 miles, under the new proposals OCC will only provide free transport for low income families to their choice of three other schools. Potentially, three vehicles to three different schools – genius!

During public meetings council officers referred to some nearest schools rather uncharitably as being ‘uncharacteristic
of the communities that they would become associated with for free school transport. They used this to support their risky assumption that most parents can afford and will continue to send their children to catchment schools. OCC encourages links with partner schools and recognises the educational benefits of transition to these designated schools but their proposals will destroy opportunities for the already disadvantaged, split up families and fracture communities.

I sincerely hope that council officers and cabinet members take the time to look carefully at all the responses they have received and prove that this consultation has not been a ‘façade’ for an already done deal – an alarming possibility which seems to be implied in the unpleasant, unprofessional and dismissive letter sent by Melinda Tilley to her colleagues recently.

As for Mrs Moon, who has conducted herself in a thoroughly decent and measured manner throughout this process, should she ever have political aspirations in the future… well, frankly good luck to her. I for one would be delighted to see somebody this sensible genuinely representing the views of ‘real’ people.
Melinda Tilley is woefully misinformed if she believes OSBAG is a ‘façade’ and does not represent the views of ‘real’ people. In each of the 4 public meetings I attended (without a T-shirt) the audience were cautioned that any views expressed during the meeting would not be taken into account when considering the proposals. Instead people were encouraged to respond to the consultation document via recognised channels. Thus, whether it was the hundreds of people that did attend the meetings or the 3 or 4 ‘usual suspects’ Cllr Tilley recognised as making contributions it should not matter one bit. If Cllr Tilley is in any doubt of the depth of feeling, she should know that on Tuesday hard copy responses from 450 individuals (many of them OSBAG ‘friends’) were delivered to OCC - all from just one village. Time and time again OCC have ignored the exposed flaws in their projected savings. So very many excellently illustrated examples have been shared through facebook by OSBAG ‘friends’ and have shown that legal minimum does not necessarily equate to most cost effective. It seems that even if savings are not made, so long as council officials are seen to be trying to make some this is good enough. It is not. Every taxpayer in Oxfordshire deserves better than this, as do the children whose futures will be affected. Central Government website states: ‘’We believe it is unacceptable for children’s success to be determined by their social circumstances.’’ This ideal to protect the most vulnerable is sadly not upheld by OCC in these proposals. The legal minimum would not oblige OCC to provide transport to catchment school for ANY child in the village I live in, INCLUDING those on the lowest incomes. These are children incidentally that the State already recognises as disadvantaged to such an extent they attract a Pupil Premium. Even though the difference between nearest and catchment school for residents in our village is under 2 miles, under the new proposals OCC will only provide free transport for low income families to their choice of three other schools. Potentially, three vehicles to three different schools – genius! During public meetings council officers referred to some nearest schools rather uncharitably as being ‘uncharacteristic of the communities that they would become associated with for free school transport. They used this to support their risky assumption that most parents can afford and will continue to send their children to catchment schools. OCC encourages links with partner schools and recognises the educational benefits of transition to these designated schools but their proposals will destroy opportunities for the already disadvantaged, split up families and fracture communities. I sincerely hope that council officers and cabinet members take the time to look carefully at all the responses they have received and prove that this consultation has not been a ‘façade’ for an already done deal – an alarming possibility which seems to be implied in the unpleasant, unprofessional and dismissive letter sent by Melinda Tilley to her colleagues recently. As for Mrs Moon, who has conducted herself in a thoroughly decent and measured manner throughout this process, should she ever have political aspirations in the future… well, frankly good luck to her. I for one would be delighted to see somebody this sensible genuinely representing the views of ‘real’ people. Joe Schmoe
  • Score: 6

9:05pm Thu 16 Jan 14

yabbadabbadoo256 says...

I'm sure there are Legal ways to get an apology out of the Council, Slander, libel laws??
I'm sure there are Legal ways to get an apology out of the Council, Slander, libel laws?? yabbadabbadoo256
  • Score: -8

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