Teachers’ last ditch bid to save school services

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to axe school buses come into force next month – as teachers launch a last ditch bid to save their services.

Up to 2,200 pupils at 47 schools in Derbyshire are to lose bus subsidies after Derbyshire County Council agreed to slash its transport budget.

But this week - following concerns raised by teachers - council chiefs have announced they will be assessing some routes that are set to be cut – to see if the plans pose safety threats to pupils.

One of the routes to be reviewed is Brimington and Barrow Hill to Springwell Community College.

The school on Middlecroft Road in Staveley, is to lose its six buses in April.

Teachers say the move will affect over 300 children and could push youngsters on to roads without pavements or see students walking along unlit canal paths.

Acting head Tracey Burnside said: “The county council has recommended that pupils come to college on their bikes down the canal which raises concerns about safety.

“We are also concerned that the majority of pupils live the other side of Troughbrook Road.

“It is bad enough having to negotiate that junction in a car but if you’re walking there isn’t a pavement in some places.”

The council said the savings of almost £1 million were part of plans to save £3.12 million from its public transport budget over the next two years.

Bus firm TM Travel is set to run four commercial services to replace those being withdrawn between Springwell College, Brimington and Mastin Moor and Barrow Hill.

The service will have a flat rate fare of £1 each way – double the fare pupils currently pay.

Tracey said: “We had a 94 per cent attendance rate last year which was really good and above the national average but we fear we will not be able to keep that up.

“Pupils will be less likely to come to school if transport is an issue.”

She added: “For the fares to suddenly double will have a big effect on some families.”

Another route set to be assessed is Mickley to Shirland Primary.

Headteacher Kim Buxton said the cuts will put commuting pupils in danger as they are forced to walk up to two miles, cross the A61 Higham bend or walk along busy country roads to get to the school.

She added: “The A61 is a very fast road and certain stretches don’t have pavements. This would require children to cross and cross back again to avoid where there are no pavements.

“The pavement is very narrow in places too.”

Councillors, parents and teachers highlighted concerns during a march through the village last month.

Patrick Cook, headteacher at Tupton Hall School which is set to lose seven subsidised services, said commercial buses were set to take over – which would lead to a fare increase of 80p for pupils.

The school fought a long campaign to maintain their bus routes after fears pupils would be forced to walk down country roads with no footpaths or street lighting, he said.

A spokesman for the council said the authority currently spent £1m a year subsidising transport for 2,200 pupils who live closer than the distance required to get free transport.

He added: “We’re assessing the Brimington and Barrow Hill to Springwell Community College and Mickley to Shirland Primary routes to see if they’re hazardous and we’ll take a report back to councillors to consider shortly and decide what action, if any, is necessary.”

l What do you think about the cuts to school buses? Email comment@derbyshiretimes.co.uk

julia.rodgerson@derbyshiretimes.co.uk