Fares Fair

One of the aspects of living which we have been losing slowly over the last hundred years or so is the sense of the circularity of life: birth, adulthood, marriage, children, grandchildren, death; or, spring, summer, autumn and winter. Ashes to ashes dust to dust.

There is an expectation that it should be forever spring. Forgetting the contrast between the fecundity of spring and the morbidity of autumn is what makes our seasons so noticeable.

When spring is at its most abundant it is so easy to dance among the meadows unaware of the effort that is put into producing such a show. Plants don’t flower for fun – they do it for survival. The effort, even if successful, can leave them exhausted for another year.

We, on the other hand, sometimes want the show without the effort. This can work for a limited time. It can also work if only a limited number of people see the show but if everyone wants the show all the time it is not sustainable.

There have been a number of reports recently of cities and counties cutting back on free bus passes for travel to school. This is distressing for all those concerned.

I would say that if a parent made the decision to send their child to a school and that part of the decision mix was that the travel was free then it is incumbent upon the local government concerned to either state very clearly that such a subsidy could be withdrawn at any time or it would have to guarantee the service. You might say that a local government cannot make such a guarantee but I think it should change its accounting process to enable it to do so. In other words, local government should put aside a contingency for the likely travel costs in seven years’ time.

One could argue that local taxpayers should not have to pay for any school travel. Children should go to their local school and if they choose not to do so then they pay they children’s fares (special educational needs excepted).

On the other hand, if a county government fails to provide a school in a village it should pay for the children to be taken from the centre of the village to a school elsewhere.

However, if a family chooses to live in a place that is so small that it cannot sustain a school, should the county pay their school fares?

Does it make a difference if people have always lived in the village or have chosen to move there?

I would say that, in general, one of the conditions of gaining the status of “village” a place has to have a primary school. We need to rethink our schooling methods and cut the need to travel.

In terms of government spending I believe that we are entering early autumn, we have yet to feel the cold wind of winter and the frosted earth is a long way off. We should have prepared for the winter in the spring, but we were too busy having a party. It is a bit late now, but we must do what we can as early as possible.

Every item of expenditure must be challenged, every type of tax must be examined for its effectiveness and the very idea of who collects the taxes and who makes the payments must be discussed too. We have accepted too many past practices for too long.