PLANS to scrap free transport for around 550 pupils and withdraw a student travel grant have been outlined in a public consultation launched by Blaenau Gwent council.

The county borough council is consulting on plans to change its current free home to school transport for both primary and secondary school pupils.

At the moment, free travel is provided to primary age pupils who live more than 1.5 miles from school and to secondary pupils living more than two miles from school.

But under the council’s preferred option, free travel would only be provided to primary school pupils living more than two miles and to secondary pupils living more than three miles from their nearest school.

Under Welsh Government regulations this is the minimum requirement for councils to provide free travel.

The proposals would hit 549 pupils, particularly affecting those in areas of Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale and Tredegar.

Currently the council provides free home to school transport for 1,323 mainstream pupils every day.

The preferred option is one of two being considered, with the other being to retain current provision.

However the council says maintaining the status quo means it would not meet its cash-saving target in the medium term financial strategy.

A free travel grant of £150 for students aged 16-19 would also be reduced over a three-year period, with it being withdrawn completely by September 2021 under the preferred option.

The grant would be cut to £100 from September 2019, then to £50 from September 2020 before being scrapped by the next academic year.

Around 800 students currently receive a travel grant towards their transport.

The other options in the public consultation are to retain the travel grant, or to withdraw it from September 1, 2019.

Withdrawing free travel to the areas identified would save the council around £280,000 every year, while scrapping the travel grant would save around £146,000.

The council says the proposals would help it meet savings targets as it faces cuts to funding due to “austerity measures” imposed by the UK government.

It anticipates needing to make revenue savings of around £18million between 2018/2019 and 2021/2022.

But the proposals could cause financial problems and difficulties for families taking their children to school.

It is also feared withdrawing the travel grant could reduce the number of students accessing further education.

The changes would be made on a phased basis from September, 2019.

They would not affect transport arrangements for Special Educational Needs pupils.

The consultation, launched on Monday, will close at 5pm on Tuesday, July 17.

Consultation events will take place across the borough, with the next on Monday (June 18) at Brynmawr Learning Action Centre from 3pm to 6pm.

Following the consultation a report will be written for the council’s executive committee.

Find out more information by visiting Email your views on the plans to