A “KISS and make up” meeting on Valentine’s Day saw school transport charges dropped for at least another year by Herefordshire Council.
Councillor Anthony Powers, group leader of It’s Our County (IOC) said “common sense had prevailed” after “co-operative and constructive” talks involving opposition parties, the ruling Tory group and senior council officers last Friday.
By Monday afternoon - as revealed by the Hereford Times - the council confirmed that it was ready to draw a line over the “vote that wasn’t” and defer introducing the charges ahead of an opposition recommendation to cabinet to do so.
Coun Powers said this morning (Tues) that a “frustrating week of confusion” had ended in clarity and credibility with free home to school transport set to continue for those pupils who qualify until at least September 2015.
IOC had originated an amendment to the council’s budget which was designed to reprieve schools transport from proposed budget cuts until September 2015.
The Independent group proposed the motion with a senior Tory as the seconder during the full council budget debate on February 7.
Though the amendment passed unanimously, differences emerged between the council’s interpretation of the vote and that of a majority of councillors.
IOC and the Independents called for a meeting to clear up the confusion which took place last Friday.
“I thank the Leader of the Council, Tony Johnson in particular for his response on this matter. I also thank the cabinet member Jeremy Millar and Sebastian Bowen, the leader of the Independents, and the officers involved, for the co-operative and constructive meeting on Friday," said Coun Powers.
"I welcome the joint statement subsequently issued by the group leaders which confirms the original intent of the budget amendment and signals the administration’s agreement to delay policy to reflect this position,” he said.
Cabinet is expected to formally endorse the agreed position when it next meets on March 13. This will extend present policy beyond the 2015 local elections.
Coun Powers, however, said IOC remained opposed to any implementation of a charging policy but a delay was the best outcome in the short term.