Following VB’s publishing of the latest update this morning about the position of the Campaign for Sixth Form and Faith School Travel, Isle of Wight council leader, Cllr David Pugh, contacted us with the response he sent to Chris Whitehouse email. It’s published, in his words, in full below – Ed
I believe that your latest statement is unfortunate, to say the least.
Anyone (not least yourself) who has anything to do with consultations knows that the process is not a referendum. Results are always more likely to be skewed to those who have responded due to being potentially affected by the proposed outcome. This is particularly the case when there is a concerted campaign encouraging people to respond – and in this case one which even suggested how they should respond.
“I must firmly dispute the claim”
Claiming that the outcome of this consultation indicates that the Island is massively opposed to this proposal would be like YouGov running a survey on foxhunting and with the majority of responses coming from members of the League Against Cruel Sports. YouGov wouldn’t claim that the result was indicative of public opinion and would weight results accordingly. Obviously we are not doing weighting, but I must firmly dispute the claim made in your headline.
I remain of the view that the vast majority of parents support these plans. That view comes from the informal feedback given to me from parents across the Island – not just those in faith schools. It is clear that the clear majority of parents believe in an equitable approach – indeed some have been puzzled as to why we provided such a genuine entitlement in the first place. These parents did not respond to the consultation because they had no direct interest in doing so. However it is their informally expressed view, and whilst an unscientific process, it still informs my view that the clear majority of parents support these overall changes.
You claim that the proposals put onto Christian families a disproportionately large share of the cost savings the Council wishes to find. That may be the case in relation to this narrow proposal, but it could be reasonably argued that this is only the case due to these Christian families having an advantage for many years which was not afforded to others.
If we had taken a more equitable approach for several years and provided a similar concession to non-Christian families, they too would be facing an impact of such cost savings. Non-Christian families have been meeting the cost of alternative travel arrangements for years, and continue to do so.
I am disappointed by your false claim that it is unclear whether this is for pupils already at the College, or only for new students in the future. The proposed Home to Education Transport Policy is clear on this point in the secton entitled “Transitional Arrangements”:
9.2 If a pupil is attending a community, voluntary aided, trust or academy secondary school and
* entered that school prior to September 2012; and
* prior to September 2012 was in receipt of free home to education transport, then they shall be entitled to continue receiving this free transport until the end of Year 11 (aged 16), subject to their home address continuing to be more than three miles from the school. Any entitlements under section 6 will be unaffected by the phasing out of these particular arrangements. The exception to this is the provision of free transport for those attending Cowes Enterprise College who live within the three miles distance and previously received transport from the floating bridge to the school.