‘Our children will be put in danger’

Councillors, parents and children gather to protest against Notts County Council's proposed plans to axe the free bus service from Shireoaks and Rhodesia to Portland School (w110614-9b)
Councillors, parents and children gather to protest against Notts County Council's proposed plans to axe the free bus service from Shireoaks and Rhodesia to Portland School (w110614-9b)

FURIOUS parents in Shireoaks and Rhodesia have condemned Notts County Council plans to axe free buses to Portland School from September.

The authority say specialist reports show children can safely walk the three-mile route to school along the canal towpath and Stubbing Lane towards Sparken Hill.

But parents say these plans are ludicrous and have united to battle for the decision to be reversed immediately.

Traci Ogley said the council has completely failed to take into account the dangers of the canal walk, dark nights or the busy road.

“They say it’s safe for an adult to walk it and it may be less dangerous for some of the older kids, but what about the young children?” she said.

“I know of a girl who has had a heart operation and she gets out of breath walking around the school. How is she going to manage the walk?”

Wayne Millington, whose 13-year-old son Reece attends Portland, said he is disgusted by the plans.

“When I drop him at the bus I know he is getting from Point A to B safely – that will not happen with this, even if he gets the service bus into town,” he said.

“The world is a different place today – children are going missing left, right and centre. I am not prepared to put my child at risk over this.”

The news has also worried pupils who say they are scared of making it to school safely.

Year 9 pupil Dani Corder: “We just won’t feel safe walking that route, particularly when the weather gets bad. There are so many perverts out there. Children will just stop going to school and attendance rates will suffer.”

Year 7 pupil Declan O’Shea added: “The school day is going to get even earlier in September – how is that going to work? Adults can’t always walk their kids to school – it’s not practical.”

County councillors Sybil Fielding and Kevin Greaves say they have the full backing of Portland head Elaine Hamilton and have been locked in talks with cabinet member for highways and transport Coun Richard Jackson.

Said Coun Greaves: “This is a completely stupid scenario – it’s not a case of if, but when something serious is going to happen. We will meet again on 29th June when we hope there will be a U-turn.”

Notts Coun Council’s transport and travel operations manager Chris Ward said: “The walking route between Rhodesia and the Portland Academy has been reassessed as part of our ongoing review of home to school transport, and as a result, it has been declared ‘available’ accompanied by an adult as necessary.”

“This means that pupils living in Rhodesia will have their free travel to and from school withdrawn at the end of term. We are currently reviewing the school bus service requirement for September.”