FUNDING for 15 school bus services for hundreds of pupils could be cut in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The council is set to carry out a consultation on plans to withdraw funding for fare-paying school bus services – which mainly serve schools in Barry and Penarth, with a few serving rural areas of the Vale.

More than 300 pupils who are ineligible for free transport are estimated to use fare-paying services, but free school transport will still be provided to eligible pupils who use the services, the council says.

The Welsh Government says free school transport must be offered to primary aged pupils who live two miles or more from their local school and secondary pupils who live three miles or more from their catchment area school.

Surveys taken in the 2017/18 academic year show 324 pupils who do not qualify for free transport pay to use these services, while 81 pupils qualifying for free transport have been given bus passes.

This year the council subsidised fare paying school transport services by over £180,000.

If the council approves plans, funding withdraws from July 31 2019.

Affected services in Penarth are:

The P132 to Ysgol Pen Y Garth via Dinas Powys, the P133 to St Josephs R/C Primary School via Dinas Powys, Sully and Penarth, the P139 to Ysgol Pen Y Garth via Sully and Penarth, the S51 to St Richard Gwyn R/C Secondary School via Llandough, Cogan, Penarth and Sully, and the S53 to St Richard Gwyn R/C Secondary School via Penarth and Dinas Powys.

The council’s cabinet approved plans to consult on the move on Monday.

Emma Reed, head of neighbourhood services and transport for council, said: “The subsidy provided to these non-statutory pupil bus services was more than £180,000 this year and the move is designed to help savings required for 2019/20. No changes to free school transport for eligible pupils are being proposed. No decision has been taken on the future of these discretionary services and even if proposals are agreed after consultation this would not necessarily mean all bus services would cease.”