CHANGES to Torfaen council’s free school and college transport provision - which will see children as young as four having to walk two miles to school each way in all weathers - have been agreed.

All councils in Wales are legally required to provide free home to school transport for young people who meet specific criteria - usually those not living within walking distance of their catchment schools.

But following approval by the cabinet on Monday the distances pupils will have to walk are increasing, from 1.5 miles for children less than eight years to two miles, and from two miles for children aged eight or above to three miles.

The decision to proceed was taken by the cabinet despite consultation results which indicated that 85 per cent of parents didn’t agree with the primary school mileage changes, and that 80 per cent didn’t agree with secondary school changes.

For post-16 learners, the entitlement will change from two to three miles.

The proposed changes are due to take effect from September 2015.

The current school transport policy in Torfaen had previously been more generous than the bare minimum, defined by law.

The School and Post 16 Transport Review consultation ran on March 3 for six weeks.

A survey questionnaire was completed by 78 parents or carers and 43 questionnaires by young people.

Concerns were also raised about weather conditions in the north of the borough making it difficult to walk to and from school.

The change in policy will result in annual savings of £230,000 - and invested into the 21st Century Schools programme, which seeks to improve school buildings.

Cabinet agreed the new mileage criteria and that it be phased in. It will only be applied to new applications for reception, year seven, or year 12 for the start of the 2015 academic year.