A PROPOSAL to ask families to fork out almost £7 a week for school bus passes has been put on hold until September.

Council officials have been working with their Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) counterparts on a review of the current transport system for pupils, in a bid to reduce costs.

They want to charge £6.90 a week for passes for secondary pupils who could use a service bus, while providing subsidised travel where a service bus is 'not a viable option'.

There was strong representation from the St Columba's High School's parent council at a meeting of the education committee regarding the plan.

The council currently fully funds additional buses to St Columba’s pupils from its Braeside and Bow Farm catchment area because this route is 'in the unique situation that there is no alternative route to the school by public transport'.

Eugene Lafferty, chair of St Columba's parent council, said: "The parent council is very concerned about the proposed changes to school transport.

"We are particularly concerned about the impact a charge of £276 per annum per child will have on many families from the Branchton, Bow Road, Larkfield and Braeside areas, and the negative effect this will also have on our school’s excellent work to date in bridging the attainment gap”.

Gourock councillor Lynne Quinn has echoed Mr Lafferty's concerns.

She told the Telegraph: "Whilst I understand that budgets are getting tighter and the need for a review of the school transport arrangement, I am deeply concerned about imposing a charge of £6.90 per week.

"This will not be financially possible for all families, especially those with more than one child.

"At the education committee I proposed that charges are means tested to ensure that those who cannot afford to pay continue to receive free travel. "This will be considered at the next committee."

But Councillor David Wilson, who is on the board of SPT, supports the proposed charges.

Cllr Wilson said: "The standard for getting free school transport in Scotland is over two miles for primary pupils and over three miles for secondaries.

"We operate over one mile for primary schools and over two miles for secondary schools.

"Some councils in Scotland operate a bus pass scheme, we are one of the very few who don't.

"Inverclyde Council has asked SPT to look at school transport for Inverclyde.

"For some different historical reasons, a minority of schools had free school transport for pupils who lived under two miles away.

"The recommendations of council officers is to bring equality throughout Inverclyde.

"I support the recommendations because I want fairness for pupils at St Stephen's and Port Glasgow High."

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said: “The education and communities committee decided that there would be no immediate change to the current position in relation to school transport.

"However further work will be done to map out a way forward.

"A further report will be brought back to the committee once this work has been done.

"The additional report will consider the possible use of participatory budgeting funds or transport grants based on an entitlement to free school meals or individual need.”