Villagers protest ‘ill thought’ proposals to cut school transport

A CAMPAIGN has been launched by Lilley residents, who claim that proposed cuts to subsidised school transport across the county is an “ill thought scheme” that would greatly affect them because of the rural location of the village.

Hertfordshire County Council are proposing cuts to the free bus service for some pupils in the wake of the government spending review, with a public consultation underway.

But this has been heavily criticised by Lilley residents, whose rural location on the border of the county could make it more difficult for children to get to their respective schools in the Hitchin catchment.

“This doesn’t just affect residents here, it is a county wide thing,” said Jacinthe Betts of Rueley Dell Road, who has been posting leaflets and campaigning for support.

“If enforced, the proposals would see the termination for Lilley students of our school bus currently providing transport to our nearest Hertfordshire schools.

“Our nearest school, irrespective of borders, is situated in Bedfordshire. As Hertfordshire residents, and as tax payers to Hertfordshire County Council, we are offered places to our nearest Hertfordshire schools.

“I feel so passionately about safe routes to schools and getting children there, especially for rural schools like our own.”

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Ms Betts, who has two children of school-age, has distributed leaflets in the village, and gained the support of other residents and parish councillors.

Fears over traffic congestion and safety have been raised, as well as the negative impact on the school children.

“I think there is a moral duty to provide the very best education for our children,” said North Herts Cllr David Barnard, who has backed the campaign.

“We need to make sure they can get to school and back home again safely in the best possible way.

“Any cuts which provide difficulties to hard pressed parents who may not have access to their own transport is unacceptable.”

The proposals, which are expected to be approved, will reduce the number of children who benefit from free home to school transport from September 2012 onwards.

“For many years your county council has gone above and beyond its legal duty for providing transport on a discretionary basis to many pupils,” said executive member for Education and Skills Richard Thake.

“In the current financial situation, we simply cannot afford to maintain this approach.”

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