THE future of free school transport for Welsh language schools and over 16s in Denbighshire will be reviewed as councillors agree to look on what it has to provide.

By the law council has to provide school transport to those who can’t walk to school.

But there are elements to this that are provided at the discretion of the council.

These include transport for students over the age of 16, pupils at Welsh medium and faith schools.

The latest school transport policy for Denbighshire came into effect at the beginning of this school year but councillors have been asked to look at the future of the discretionary part of what the county provides.

This could include losing some of the services that are currently provided.

Free transport for Welsh medium secondary schools costs the council £976,690 a year and for over 16s the cost to the council is £370,024 per annum.

The cabinet member for education, Huw Hilditch-Roberts argued that any move to scrap any of the services would be bad for education in the county despite the rising costs of the service.

He said: “For a rural authority we are delivering value for money for our children if you compare with other authorities.  The figure is about £2.5 million.

“Some members don’t get what we have to give for school transport and what we don’t. And it really does irk me.”

He added: “What is not in our gift is the cost of fuel, the cost of maintenance which is shooting up.”

Cllr Julian Thompson-Hill, the cabinet member for finance, said: “The other problem is the market is a very small market that wants to do the work in any event.”

Cllr Hilditch-Roberts warned councillors they would need to take into account how changes to any services would hit the education of all students in the county.

He added: “We need to look at this in terms of the impact on education in Denbighshire. If you have 150 kids in sixth form and suddenly you take a big proportion out because they can’t afford to get to school the curriculum is screwed for the rest because we won’t have the money to offer the courses. “So we need to have an understanding of the impact on the education and funding for schools.”

Members of the council’s communities scrutiny committee meeting today agreed to set up a working group to examine discretionary free school transport.