Derbyshire mum furious after being told she will have to pay £800 for two school bus passes for her children
A Derbyshire mum says she is angry after being told she will have to pay £800 for two school bus passes for her children.
Sarah Cottam's 14-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter attend Heritage High School in Clowne.
Derbyshire County Council, which provides the transport to the school, says children can no longer pay by cash for a journey and need a bus pass.
Children who live within three miles of the school are not eligible for a free bus pass - and Sarah's home in Whitwell is 2.8 miles away.
Previously Sarah paid 80p per child each way to school but she will now have to fork out £800 - which she can't afford - or her son and daughter will have to walk the 55-minute route to school.
"I am angry and annoyed about the price of the bus passes especially with it being 0.2 of a mile which will cost me £800," Sarah said.
"Originally I paid 80p per child each way to get the bus.
"Now they have introduced passes for all kids it will cost me £400 per child per academic year, which has to be paid in full before the end of each academic year, that they will invoice in three parts.
"So because I live 0.2 of a mile inside the radius to school it will cost me £800 per year to get my kids to and from school. This is a large bill I really cannot afford even when split into three."
And so Sarah says her children might have to walk the 55-minute route to school because she can't afford the huge sum.
"I fear for my children's safety having to walk that route to school," she said.
"Where I live, in my opinion, it is a dangerous route to school."
She added: "If I end up having to drive my kids to school, it will have an impact on my working hours.
"I will also have to deal with the school not allowing the children on the premises early in the morning, which to be honest I would rather them be there too early than have to walk there.
"I also have to consider what the weather is like and the dark nights drawing in when it comes to them travelling home."
A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “Children who live within walking distance of their normal area school aren’t entitled to free school transport, but if there are spaces on a school service, they can normally pay to travel.
“However, this service is almost full with pupils who are entitled to free school transport and there are only a few spare seats.
“To manage demand for these seats, parents of children who are not entitled to free school transport can apply to buy a pass. These can be paid for in instalments throughout the year and don’t have to be paid for up front.
“The pass works out marginally more expensive than the current fare, but cheaper than the local commercial bus service.
“If parents want to challenge a decision on whether or not their children are entitled to free school transport, including if a walking route is dangerous, we’d be happy to look at it.
“Our school transport policy can be found at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/get2school
“If parents want us to consider reviewing a route, they can write to us at [email protected]"