Kirkby head teacher issues bus axe warning

A KIRKBY head teacher has warned axing a bus service will lead to heavy congestion as hundreds of parents are forced to drop their children off by car.

Nottinghamshire County Council has cut £400,000 from the amount it spends on school bus services as it tries to balance it books – but the move could mean students travelling from the Huthwaite area to Ashfield School will have to walk, use commercial buses or get lifts from their parents.

There are currently four buses which take around 250 students from Huthwaite to the school – and all four are being withdrawn from July.

Head of Ashfield School Dick Vasey said he was now worried about the number of cars outside the school, as well as fuel costs for parents.

He says: “My main concern is parents having to bring the students to school in cars.

“It is terrible in the mornings – and you could be looking at another 80 to 100 cars.”

The school has now started talks with a private bus firm to find out if it could offer an alternative service – and while this would be more expensive than the council-subsidised bus, school staff say it would be cheaper than the commercial buses.

Meanwhile Fiona Asbury, who is a county and district councillor representing the Huthwaite area, said: “With the A38 and the 50-minute walk, many parents will say, ‘I’ll take my child to school’ so that’s 150 new cars trying to get to school.

“As a parent of a young girl, I would not want her walking for an hour-and-a-half backwards and forwards, especially on dark nights.”

She added that commercial bus services would be expensive for many families, especially if they had several children at the school.

The issue was also raised by Ashfield MP Gloria de Piero at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons last Wednesday.

Speaking after the debate, Ms de Piero said: “Parents have told me they are concerned about how to get their kids to school without the bus. The council can’t guarantee there will be a commercial replacement service, or that routes, timetables and fares will be maintained. It’s a real worry for parents who don’t drive, or those with children at different schools.”

“I was really disappointed that the Prime Minister didn’t even have the courtesy to address my question. I have now submitted a written question to the Secretary of State to find out just how widespread this issue is. I intend to keep up pressure on the Government because families should not have to worry about getting their kids to school.”