Parents fight to keep bus

PUBLISHED: 13:53 20 April 2006 | UPDATED: 13:23 04 May 2010

PARENTS are fighting county council plans to scrap a free bus service between Fordham and Soham Village College, amid fears for childrens safety. Cambridgeshire County Council plans to axe the service, which has run since September 2003, saying that sinc

PARENTS are fighting county council plans to scrap a free bus service between Fordham and Soham Village College, amid fears for childrens' safety.

Cambridgeshire County Council plans to axe the service, which has run since September 2003, saying that since the bridge over the Fordham bypass opened, the three-mile route is now safe for youngsters to walk.

For safety reasons, the bus has been used by more than 70 children between the ages of 11 and 16, even though they live less than three miles away from school, which is the minimum distance required for free travel under county council guidelines.

The council has now decided, however, that the route is safe following the construction of the Fordham bypass, which opened last year. The free bus service is set to end in September for children in Fordham.

The decision has been met with anger by an action group in Fordham, which claims the proposed withdrawal is both unsafe and impractical.

Nigel Gale, a member of the three-strong group whose 15-year-old daughter Kathryn attends Soham Village College, said: "Part of that stretch is a 60mph limit and there is only a narrow footpath between the children and the oncoming traffic.

The county council has said pupils could use a paid bus service, but Mr Gale fears that this is too costly.

"The county council wants £100 per child, per term. This is expensive and people will say 'I'll jump in the car', which will increase congestion."

The action group is fighting the plans with a 98-signature petition, which was recently delivered to county education officer Clare Buckingham.

In addition, 1,000 postcards have been printed and distributed around Fordham, and these will be sent to Gordon Jeyes, county council deputy chief executive and cabinet member for young people's services.

South-East Cambridgeshire MP Jim Paice has lent his support to the campaign, as have district councillors Michael Allen and John Abbott, as well as county councillor Judy Broadway and Fordham parish council.

A county council spokesman said: "Now the bridge over the bypass has been built the children can cross the road safely and the exceptional circumstances no longer apply.

"These parents are appealing against the county council's decision and their appeal will be heard in due course.

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