Victory! Parent power wins back school bus

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PUBLIC outcry over plans to axe free buses to Portland School in September has helped to win a reprieve for parents in Shireoaks and Rhodesia.

Notts County Council has announced a U-turn over the proposals for children to walk three miles to school, saying they need further consideration.

The move comes after angry parents and councillors said the authority had completely failed to take into account the dangers of the canal walk, dark nights or busy roads.

Parent Wayne Millington, of Winifred Street, Rhodesia said he was ecstatic about the news.

“I’m elated our children are safe for at least another year. This has really helped to bring the community together and the media have done a fantastic job of putting it out there,” he said.

Labour county councillor for transport and highways Coun Kevin Greaves said the campaign, which the Guardian highlighted just two weeks ago, has been well fought by all parties.

“When I learned of the stupid proposals to cut the bus service, I immediately set about banging heads together. I made sure the County Hall bureaucrats got “both barrels” about my thoughts on their proposal,” he said.

The safety of our children comes first in my book – and I wasn’t prepared to have our young children walk to school along an unlit tow path.”

He added: “County Hall has kicked their “review” into the long grass – and I say it should stay there permanently.”

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

But parents and pupils slammed the idea and said the county council had showed a complete disregard for safety.

Year 9 pupil Dani Corder said: “We just won’t feel safe walking that route, particularly when the weather gets bad. Children will just stop going to school and attendance rates will suffer.” In a letter addressed to members last week, county council leader Coun Kay Cutts said the issue needed further consideration following the level of concerns raised.

“This has not been dealt with in the most open and transparent way, nor has sufficient time been given to consult with parents and schools to notify them of any changes.”

“A cross-party members’ reference group will be established to evaluate each case and make recommendations. This is likely to be a lengthy piece of work and it is unlikely that any decisions will be made before the next academic year.” But Labour county councillor Coun Sybil Fielding said the situation was far from resolved.

“I have no doubt the article in the Worksop Guardian played a very useful part in the change of heart by the leader of the county council. That said, the battle is not over yet,” she said.

“This is definitely a victory but they are still looking at the possibility of axeing the free bus service.”

She added: “Even if it’s not going to affect parents this September, it will still affect them in future years. We have still got a lot to do to make sure this never happens.”