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PLANS to close children’s centres and scrap some free school buses have been challenged.

Essex county councillors voted to close 13 children’s centres and merge them with other sites.

During the same cabinet meeting, the Conservative-run administration also agreed a new home-school transport policy which includes a change allowing free school buses only to be provided to a child’s nearest school – except for grammar school pupils on low incomes.

The Labour opposition group at County Hall have challenged both decisions and called them in for more scrutiny.

Group leader Julie Young said: “The home-school transport policy is a huge can of worms, but I am particularly concerned about the fact they have not told parents how much they face having to pay.

“A bill of £500 to £700 is a significant amount of money for parents to find and clearly if there is more than one child it will be even higher.

“I am concerned about the effect on parental choice and the environment.”

Mrs Young and cabinet members will next hold an informal meeting to see if the concerns can be resolved before the plans could be sent to a scrutiny committee.