CHESHIRE East should re-think using taxis for some school runs because some charge an ‘extortionate’ amount of money, a councillor said.

Like many councils across the country, Cheshire East uses taxis to ferry some children with special educational needs to and from school.

But members of the licensing committee said there must be a cheaper way, with visiting councillor Lata Anderson (Wilmslow Dean Row, Ind) saying some charged an ‘extortionate amount of money’.

 

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr Lata Anderson

 

Handforth councillor Julie Smith (Non-grouped) told the committee: “There are an awful lot of children in my ward that go to schools in Macclesfield, in Congleton, in Cheadle, in Stockport – all by taxi.”

The council’s licensing team leader, Kim Evans, said it was not a matter for the licensing committee but for the children and families committee to decide.

“I think, to some extent, the problem is that children and families have a statutory responsibility that they have to fulfil these journeys and that's the problem they’ve got,” said Mrs Evans.

“At the moment they're choosing to do that through the tendering process and using taxis, whether there's a better way or a different way or a more financially sensible way of doing that, that's really for them to explore.”

Cllr Rod Fletcher (Alsager, Lib Dem) said when the unitary authorities were formed in 2009, Cheshire West and Chester (CWAC) went one way and bought minibuses to transport children to school and Cheshire East used taxis.

He said he didn’t know if CWAC still used the minibuses but it may be worthwhile speaking to that council.

Cllr Lesley Smetham (Gawsworth, Con), who is also a member of the children and families committee, said: “We've had a very difficult session this morning with children and families [committee meeting] with the funding issues that are coming to the fore now, partly from pandemic, partly from increases in need and the services we provide.

 

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr Lesley Smetham

 

“If there's anything like this that's outstanding, that's not being dealt with properly, that really needs to be taken forward somewhere.”

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Smith told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) she believes Cheshire East should look into using minibuses.

“That seems to be a far more sensible way of doing it than using lots of different taxis going to lots of different locations or to the same location even,” said Cllr Smith.

“When we’re scratching around for pennies to fix potholes and for other social care issues we’ve got, I think there must be a far more cost effective way of doing it.”

Cllr Anderson told the LDRS after the meeting she will be following it up with the children and families committee to see if there are alternative options for getting children to and from school.