WEST Berkshire parents have said they are “outraged” after discovering the cost of their child’s home to school transport is set to rocket in the next school year.
Parents of pupils at The Downs School have set up a petition after West Berkshire Council asked them to pay £700 for their child’s seat on the school bus from September 2017.
The cost for the same service for this school year was £250.
West Berkshire Council has, however, argued that the service has previously been heavily subsidised and in the face of unprecedented funding cuts can no longer afford the subsidy.
Chieveley parent Michelle Corr, whose daughter will be moving to Year 8 at the school next year, said: “I was shocked. I know the council have been subsidising it but they didn’t contact us at all so none of the parents have heard.
“There hasn’t been any consultation with parents at all.”
Debbie Carroll, who lives in Hermitage and hopes her daughter will be accepted by the school in September, said: “I found out through Facebook. I don’t know how they can justify such an increase.
“I’m sure it’s going to affect families. Even if you can pay in installments, it could be an extra £100 a month, which is a huge amount.”
The change in fare will affect around 60 pupils at the school who live in the catchment area but who live geographically closer to another school.
Mrs Corr added: “If we lived 0.2 miles up the road, then The Downs would be our closest school and we wouldn’t have to pay. It’s splitting villages in two.
“We just want the council to consult with parents and hopefully they can reconsider.”
The petition has so far received 442 supporters and says the move is likely to lead to more parents choosing to drive their children to school, which could result in more accidents.
According to parents, there has already been concern raised regarding traffic bottlenecks at the school gates, as well as safety issues along the A34.
West Berkshire Council spokeswoman Peta Stoddart-Crompton said: “This is down to the current financial situation that we can’t continue to provide the subsidy.
“We do understand that this will have an impact on parents, however we have kept the subsidy going for as long possible.”
You can view the petition by searching ‘The Downs West Berkshire’ at www.change.org