School bus pass victory

By Mark Elson   |   Senior Reporter   |
Wednesday 19th December 2018 10:39 am
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FREE bus passes will be reinstated on a school route after an independent survey said the 30-minute walk along a busy Lane .

Parents reacted furiously to news in October that the passes would be withdrawn from January for students travelling from Drybrook to Dene Magna school in Mitcheldean, with around 400 taking to Facebook to protest.

Conservative county councillors Brian Robinson (Mitcheldean) and Terry Hale (Drybrook and Lydbrook) agreed to press Gloucestershire county council to re-evaluate the Stenders Road route after a stormy public meeting at the village’s rugby club called by Labour Forest Council ward members Cllr Douglas Scott and Cllr Jackie Fraser, and yesterday (Tuesday, December 18) it was agreed to overturn the withdrawal of the free passes.

Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Cllr Richard Boyles, ordered the re-evaluation of the route, which was conducted by an independent assessor from outside the county. 

That assessment found the road to be “not suitable for foot travel”, meaning pupils travelling it will be eligible for a free bus pass if they apply.

Parents reacted furiously last month when Cllr Robinson – Conservative leader on the Forest of Dean Council and editor of the road safety I Care Do You? campaign – said he had walked the route in a hi vis jacket before the start of school and had experienced no problems.

Many said the decision was “putting children’s lives at risk”. One mother called it “an accident waiting to happen”, while others called it “outrageous”, an “absolute disgrace”, “senseless” and “ludicrous”.

In the eye of the storm, Cllr Robinson agreed to ask the county council to reconsider.

And after the free passes were reinstated, he said: “This means that the bus service is guaranteed and that students can travel on it for free.

“I’m really pleased with this outcome. 

“Now we need to make sure all eligible students get the message and apply for their new pass.”

Cllr Boyles added: “I have always been determined this issue would be decided fairly, and following representations by local councillors, I ordered an independent re-evaluation, which has determined that the route is not suitable for walking. 

“Because of that, the county council will fund bus passes for students travelling from Drybrook to Dene Magna in future. 

“Parents will need to apply for the bus passes – and can do so on the county council website.”

Cllr Hale said: “This is great news for parents and students, and is exactly what Brian Robinson and I have been campaigning months for.”

Parents can apply for the free bus passes on the route by going to www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/transport/school-and-college-transport

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