A U-TURN on a decision to stop paying out of Powys travel expenses to 16-19 year old students  has “really annoyed” a councillor.

Powys Council is this month expected to drop plans to stop reimbursing 16 to 19-year-olds who study outside the county for their travel costs.

The move had been expected to save the authority £75,000 a year from its £10 million annual school transport bill, but will now be continued after negative responses to a consultation into the issue.

But speaking at a meeting of Powys Council's learning and skills scrutiny committee on Monday, September 7, Cllr Sandra Davies, (Cwm-twrch – Labour), said: “I find the u-turn really disappointing.”

She added: “What we are actually doing is using money that is coming in from Welsh Government to bus young people out of county and even out of Wales in to England.

“Where is the Powys pound on this?

“We are spending £75,000 on individuals we don’t have any need to.”

Finance and transport portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies replied that it had always been part of the transport policy, and said as education provision improves in Powys, fewer pupils will travel away.

“Possibly, when we have a better (educational) offer we may be able to make that saving,” he said.

“Hopefully there will be no need to travel outside of Powys in the future."

But Cllr Sandra Davies believed that the policy makers should not have been swayed by such a small number of people.

She said: “333 individuals responded to the consultation, that’s really a drop in the ocean when you consider how many people are in Powys and could have responded.

“And it was about 60 per cent of those who were against it.

“I don’t think that’s very valid when it comes to us as custodians of the Powys purse.

“We’re not taking decisions and sticking to them, I’m really annoyed.”

Cllr Aled Davies replied: “The purpose of the consultation is to go out and engage and listen.

“We take on board the views, there are some for and against, and the cabinet will have to balance those views of what the policy will be.”

“We will never please everybody.”

Head of transformation and communications, Emma Palmer, told members that there may be a need to look at the transport policy every year as the school transformation programme ramps up.

It is expected that cabinet will make a decision at a meeting later this month, and the new policy will come into force in September 2021.