Axe falls on four primary school buses - The Solihull Observer

Axe falls on four primary school buses

Solihull Editorial 13th Jul, 2017   0

THE AXE will fall on four primary school buses later this month after Solihull Council chiefs approved plans to cut the service in a bid to save cash.

Buses for Meriden Church of England School, St George and St Teresa Catholic Primary School, St Patrick’s Church of England School and St Alphege Church of England Junior School and St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School will have the brakes put on permanently later this month after plans were approved by the Children’s Education and Skills committee.

Earlier this year the Council held a public consultation to stop the four primary school bus services (serving five schools) from July 25 in a bid to save more than £100,000.

The plans were met with fierce criticism and out of the 91 responses, 84 were against the proposals.

A petition with 138 signatures was handed to the Council.

Concerns raised included an increase in traffic and parking issues around the schools, additional childcare costs and a suggestion for the Council to use smaller vehicles.

Suggested alternatives to Council-funded buses suggested were to walk to school, use public transport or car sharing.

These suggestions have been slammed by parents and campaigners to keep the Meriden School service including Lorna Edwards, who said the alternatives were not realistic for working parents and the walk from Millisons Wood is dangerous and busy during the school run.

As a concession, the Council has agreed to transitional arrangements for children currently using the Meriden School bus service.

This is the local catchment area school and they will be provided with a pupil bus pass from the start of the new school academic year in September 2017 until they leave the school.

The bus from Millisons Wood to Meriden School was commissioned by Solihull Council when the nearby housing development was built and the route to school was deemed unsafe.

Commenting on the decision, Councillor Ken Meeson, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, said: “The affected services can no longer be justified as there are alternative scheduled services available and it is unfair on all our other parents that 72 children receive special treatment at substantial public cost.

“The Council is not a bus operator but agreed to fund a number of private buses when the former West Midlands Transport Authority (CENTRO) controversially withdrew dedicated school buses serving a number of schools some years ago.

“The private buses were only commissioned where there were no scheduled commercial services and the cost was met from the education budget that the council then controlled. Most of these services have since ceased as the number of scheduled commercial services have increased.

“While I sympathise with the many parents who responded to the consultation, there is an issue of fairness as parents across the borough have to make travel arrangements for their children to attend school.

“This can involve the use of public transport, private cars or preferably walking, where this is practical.

“Children attending a school a school in their catchment area may be entitled to transport assistance (a bus pass) if they have to travel more than the distance specified in legislation.”

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