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Parents relieved by Upper Wharfedale School bus reprieve
The parents of 37 children had been told the bus provided by North Yorkshire County Council at a cost of £3 per pupil per day was to be withdrawn by January next year. But now the parents, who only started paying for the formerly free service in September, have been told it will continue at least until the end of the school year in July ahead of a review in October.
In addition, the parents have been told the cost is “unlikely” to go up, although it will be subject to the usual reviews.
County Coun Shelagh Marshall said she was pleased with the outcome, but that more work needed to be done to ensure the long term future of the service.
“I am really pleased that the county council has listened to parents and councillors and I must thank the parents of Gargrave children for supporting the meeting I organised and the work done following that meeting,” she said. “It always proves to officers that I am not exaggerating about parents’ concerns.”
A packed meeting in Gargrave Village Hall last month was told the bus to the out-of-catchment Threshfield school could only continue if parents were able to fund it themselves - at a cost of around £6 per pupil per day.
They were told a change of policy meant that free transport for pupils attending out of catchment schools instead of their “normal” schools was being withdrawn.
But following opposition from parents, schools and councillors, the council has decided to maintain the service - along with all other similarly supported school bus services until the end of the current school year.
In addition, the parents, have been told the cost is “unlikely” to go up, although it will be subject to the usual reviews.
Parent Karen Lancaster said it had not been a question of paying, but they wanted to be treated the same as other fee- paying parents. She said although there was still uncertainty, the news that the bus was to continue would be a great relief to parents. “This news will come as a great relief to people in many areas of the county and I sincerely hope that transport will continue for all the affected schools after that,” she said.
She said it was important that parents of children were still able to have the choice of schools. “Parents of children at Gargrave Primary School also need to know what the future holds for them and I hope that the council will soon be able to reassure them, by continuing to offer Upper Wharfedale School as a choice with transport provided,” she said. “I hope that next year the people of North Yorkshire do not find themselves having to fight again for transport to enable them to send their children to the school of their choice.”
A council spokesman confirmed the service would continue until the end of the school year and the charge to Gargrave pupils of £3 was unlikely to change.
“Following feedback from parents, schools and local councillors, the county council has taken the decision to retain supported school transport services for fare paying students pending a review of all such services by October 2013.
“Along with bus operators we review the fares we charge on local bus services from time to time.”