Bus ser­vice for hun­dreds of pupils is axed

Macclesfield Express - - EU REFERENDUM - RHI­AN­NON MCDOWALL

OP­PO­SI­TION is grow­ing af­ter coun­cil bosses passed plans to re­move free school buses for hun­dreds of pupils.

Cab­i­net mem­bers have voted to ap­prove plans which will mean that around 200 pupils at Tyther­ing­ton School and Poynton High School who pre­vi­ously had a free bus ser­vice will instead be ex­pected to walk along Mid­dle­wood Way, de­spite par­ents say­ing it is ‘un­safe’.

And nearly 100 pupils at Fal­li­b­roome will also lose their bus ser­vice af­ter coun­cil bosses ap­proved £80,000 plans to in­stall a con­trolled cross­ing on Prest­bury Road.

More than 850 peo­ple have now signed an on­line pe­ti­tion against the de­ci­sion.

The Cab­i­net has voted to re­clas­sify five routes to schools pre­vi­ously deemed to be un­safe and with­draw free trans­port for a to­tal of 500 stu­dents from April 2017.

The move is ex­pected to save £495,000 by 2019.

Four schools out­side the Mac­cles­field bor­ough will also be af­fected.

Head­teach­ers Manny Botwe and David Waugh say the Mid­dle­wood Way dis­used railway line is too danger­ous for stu­dents to walk and has urged the coun­cil to re­con­sider its plans.

It comes af­ter Coun Ge­orge Hayes, deputy cab­i­net mem­ber for chil­dren, told a meet­ing at Mac­cles­field Town Hall that the coun­cil was not re­spon­si­ble for the per­sonal safety of the chil­dren on their way to school.

Quot­ing the adopted pol­icy, he said: “Per­sonal safety is­sues for chil­dren trav­el­ling alone are not to be con­sid­ered [by the coun­cil]”.

But Manny Botwe, from Tyther­ing­ton School, said the safety of chil­dren should be a pri­or­ity.

He said: “This is about keep­ing young peo­ple safe, surely that has got to be para­mount over sav­ing peo­ple money.

“I’m not in­ter­ested in the nitty gritty of poli­cies, the ques­tion is, is it right and does it keep young peo­ple safe? And the an­swer is no.”

David Waugh, head­teacher at Poynton High School, also crit­i­cised the coun­cil’s choice to go ahead with the de­ci­sion with­out a con­sul­ta­tion.

He said: “When did this re­clas­si­fi­ca­tion hap­pen and has the cri­te­ria changed?

“Are they ap­ply­ing less strin­gent cri­te­ria over the safety of our chil­dren?”

Heidi Reid, who lives on High­field Road in Bolling­ton and whose son at­tends Tyther­ing­ton School, said: “I’m just ap­palled that they are try­ing to force this through the back door.

“Ab­so­lutely noth­ing has changed since three years ago [on the Mid­dle­wood Way] when then coun­cil leader Michael Jones very pub­licly said that it was a danger­ous route.

“There has been no fur­ther in­vest­ment, not ad­di­tional ac­cess points, and they haven’t im­proved the light­ing - it’s just as danger­ous as it al­ways was.”

Mac­cles­field MP David Rut­ley, who lives in Tyther­ing­ton, said he will sup­port the teach­ers’ cam­paign and agrees that the route is danger­ous.

Cab­i­net also agreed to use £150,000 from the govern­ment’s Lo­cal Trans­port Plan Fund to im­prove fur­ther routes to schools over the next few years, in­clud­ing the route to Fal­li­b­roome High School.

Coun­cil­lor Rachel Bai­ley, leader of Cheshire East Coun­cil , said: “The ma­jor­ity of our Cab­i­net mem­bers have ei­ther fully or par­tially walked at least one of the avail­able walk­ing routes, in­clud­ing the Bolling­ton to Tyther­ing­ton and Wil­las­ton to Mal­bank routes.

“How­ever, it is for of­fi­cers with the ap­pro­pri­ate qual­i­fi­ca­tions and ex­pe­ri­ence to im­ple­ment our ap­proved pol­icy and not the role of mem­bers to as­sess the routes.”

A spokesper­son for Cheshire East Coun­cil said there is no need for a con­sul­ta­tion be­cause they are im­ple­ment­ing a pol­icy which has al­ready been ap­proved.

He said: “There is no re­quire­ment to consult as we have pre­vi­ously con­sulted on the pol­icy and this is now the im­ple­men­ta­tion.

“As has pre­vi­ously been made clear, we are hav­ing con­tin­ued dis­cus­sions with the schools and par­ents of pupils who will be af­fected and of course par­ents can re­quest a fur­ther re­view of the routes as part of the process mov­ing for­ward.”

Sign the pe­ti­tion at https://you.38de­grees. org.uk/pe­ti­tions/ keep-tyther­ing­ton­school-buses.

●» Bolling­ton pupils with head­teacher Manny Botwe cam­paign about the loss of free school trans­port, Poynton head­teacher David Waugh crit­i­cised the speed of the de­ci­sion

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