Questions to the Counsel General and Brexit Minister (in respect of his law officer responsibilities): The Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008 (2/3/19)

Janet:

What legal advice has the Counsel General provided to the Minister for Education in relation to steps the Welsh Government could take to improve the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008?

 

Counsel General and Brexit Minister: 

Well, as the Member knows, whilst I don't go into the specifics of legal advice, in delivering the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008, the Welsh Government has demonstrated that the safety of children when travelling to school is of paramount importance, and will continue to be.

 

Janet:

Thank you. The reason I've asked you this question is I've been dealing with a number of cases within my own constituency where school pupils are being denied transport directly from their home, despite the stress caused by sometimes quite a lot of walks along forest trails and quite isolated areas. According to section 3 of the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008, local authorities must take into account the fact the travel arrangements they make must not cause unreasonable levels of stress. Well, I can tell you, in some of the families that I am dealing with, this is causing a lot of concern for the safety of the child. And it's seen as subjective as to what is considered safe or unsafe: badly lit roads, roads that are completely isolated, and we're talking, in some instances, farm tracks and forest trails. So, this is problematic, because there is no definition of stress nor a definitive list of what criteria could be considered. So, it comes down to the local authority to determine how stress assessments are carried out, in accordance with their own learner travel policy. Counsel General, will you work with the Minister for Education to perhaps provide a list of what criteria local authorities should be taking into account when dealing with stress as a measure, as regards the 2008 Measure itself?

 

Counsel General and Brexit Minister:

I thank the Member for that question. The Measure, of course, provides a baseline obligation on local authorities to provide transport in specified circumstances, as the Member will be aware, and, obviously, equally, there is an element of discretion for the local authority to make judgments within that framework. She will, I think, be aware the Minister for Education has committed the Government to a wider refresh of the operational guidelines in relation to the learner travel provision, and I'm sure that's the sort of thing she'll have in mind as part of that broader process.