Protesters to gather as free bus D-day looms

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - BELINDA RYAN

PARENTS and chil­dren are ex­pected to turn out in force next week in the hope of see­ing Cheshire East’s full coun­cil re­verse the cab­i­net de­ci­sion to axe free school buses and make chil­dren walk routes they deem un­safe.

Cam­paign­ers ar­gue that the Mid­dle­wood Way - a poorly -lit for­mer rail track with a steep em­bank­ment - is not safe for chil­dren to use be­tween Bolling­ton and Tyther­ing­ton High School and have called for the coun­cil to over­turn its de­ci­sion to with­draw free school buses.

Head­teach­ers, staff, parents and pupils Tyther­ing­ton High School in Mac­cles­field, and Mal­bank School in Nantwich, protested out­side the coun­cil’s HQ at Oc­to­ber’s cab­i­net meet­ing where mem­bers voted in favour of scrap­ping the free school buses.

Now cam­paign­ers are hop­ing to turn out in force again, af­ter the coun­cil con­firmed it would hold a ‘spe­cial meet­ing’ on Thurs­day, February 23, to dis­cuss the is­sue.

The spe­cial meet­ing - which will take place dur- ing the next full coun­cil meet­ing - has been called by a cross-party group of coun­cil­lors for a vote of no con­fi­dence in the cab­i­net de­ci­sion to scrap the free school buses on the un­safe walk­ing routes.

Bolling­ton coun­cil­lor Amanda Stott, who is re­spon­si­ble for call­ing the meet­ing with coun­cil­lors across the bor­ough, said she is hop­ing all coun­cil- lors vote with their con­science.

She said: “I hope that all coun­cil­lors, re­gard­less of pol­i­tics, vote with their con­science and ac­tu­ally make a stand on be­half of those chil­dren.”

The meet­ing will be the first spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing ever to be called by a cross-party group of coun­cil­lors in Cheshire East.

Cheshire East Coun­cil has al­ways main­tained its plans to axe free school buses on a to­tal of five routes were ‘to en­sure greater fair­ness, en­cour­age walk­ing to school and de­liver sav­ings to lo­cal tax­pay­ers’.

The coun­cil also pointed out there are nu­mer­ous health ben­e­fits for chil­dren walk­ing to school, es­pe­cially at a time when 28per­cent of Year six chil­dren in Cheshire East are over­weight or obese.

The spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing will be held dur­ing the full coun­cil meet­ing at Sand­bach Town Hall next Thurs­day (February 23).

It will be­gin at 11am. Any­one attending is asked to ar­rive early be­cause of an­tic­i­pated park­ing prob­lems on mar­ket day.

The Mag­ick Ot­ters de­liv­ered a vi­brant and colour­ful set at the fundraising event

Coun Amanda Stott (in­set) called the spe­cial meet­ing on ax­ing free school buses as cam­paign­ers in­sist the al­ter­na­tive, walk­ing along The Mid­dle­wood Way, is not safe

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