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School bus route at risk in Brighton and Hove ... again
A school bus service that campaigners fought to save from the axe less than a year ago is under threat again.
As it looks to make millions of pounds of savings, Brighton and Hove City Council wants to cut the £30,000 subsidy a year to the 96.
Local authority bosses believe it can work with parents and schools to find a more suitable way to transport the 36 children that rely on the route every day.
It comes eight months after parents got the service reinstated for a year when council chiefs threatened to scrap it.
Councillors who will discuss the issue again in a meeting tomorrow (March 21) are split on whether the service, which is used by children in Hollingbury, Patcham and Seven Dials to get to Hove schools, should be ended in September.
Sue Shanks, the chairman of the children’s and young people committee, said: “We understand that the withdrawal of the route is going to cause problems for some but, in these difficult times, we have been faced with many hard decisions.”
The local authority claims the number of users is dropping as the Westdene area is no longer in the catchment area for Hove Park and Blatchington Mill.
Rather than wait for all the affected pupils to finish their education, the council wants to withdraw the bus and find an alternative.
Council bosses admit that “some limited resources” may be needed to pay for this although no details have been provided.
Conservative councillor Andrew Wealls said he agreed the number of pupils using the service was dwindling but said it was “imperative” alternative arrangements were made.
He added: “To pull the rug from under their feet at this stage in their school careers would be grossly unfair.”
Labour group leader Gill Mitchell said she felt it should be retained as parents had made their choice of school on the basis that school transport would be provided.
The council had to row back from a similar plan last year after it was greeted with opposition from parents and children.
School transport policy
At the time, parents claimed it would mean their children have to get two buses to do the two and a half mile journey to school every day.
It is part of a wider look at home to school transport being discussed at the council’s policy and resources meeting tomorrow.
Among the plans are to extend the 91 so that it runs from Ovingdean to Cardinal Newman School.
The 74 and 75 bus services to Patcham High School would also be retained.
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