Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Labour council refuses free school bus pass to unbaptised boy

I could hardly believe it when I first read it but the news release below arrived a few minutes ago from the office of Fiona Hall MEP. So Labour are refusing a free bus pass to a child attending a Catholic school on the grounds the child has not been baptised! Surely this must be a breach of the Human Rights Act?

The news release speaks for itself:


Despite being accepted as a pupil at St Leonard’s RCVA School, Durham, Elliot Stewart from Brasside who has started school this week has been refused a free bus pass because he has not been baptised.

When Elliot’s mother enquired about a bus pass for Elliot with Durham County Council she was told that he could not be issued one as he has not been baptised. She was then advised by a Council employee to get Elliot baptised in order to get a bus pass.

Mrs Stewart contacted local MEP Fiona Hall who raised the issue with the Council and received a response to say that it is was agreed between the Roman Catholic Diocese and the County Council that for a child to qualify for free school transport both that child and at least one parent must have been baptised, the Liberal Democrat commented:

"I am surprised at the attitude of Durham County Council on this issue.

"Surely if a child is offered a place by a Roman Catholic school it is only fair for the County Council to provide transport to make it possible for the child to attend.

"Whether or not a child is baptised should be a matter for the parents, not the council.

"I am seeking clarification from the Roman Catholic Diocese and from the Schools Minister."

1 comment:

Jock Coats said...

I think Fiona should be careful about this one. I'm sure a similar situation arose with a Lib Dem council last year. And I'm sure it turned out to be perfectly within the rules, if not the most transparent of rules. Denominnational schools - especially non-CofE ones which are moree common - are usually designed around fulfilling the needs of Catholics from a wider area than a normal school catchment area. Here in Oxford the Catholic secondary school just happens to be in the city but is intended to be the one Catholic option for Catholic families from the whole county. So if a non-Catholic family from outside the normal geographic catchment for a secondary school (who would therefore normally get bussed in) insists on such a school they do not automatically qualify for free bus passes. As I understand it anyway. If that makes any sense!