Tue, 28 Feb 2017
A SECOND petition has been set up in the hope of getting West Berkshire Council to reconsider increasing the cost of home-to-school transport by almost 200 per cent for some parents.
Two families in Aldermaston have slammed the council’s home-to-school transport policy as ‘mindless and ridiculous’ after they were told they would need to pay £700 for their children’s seat on the school bus to The Willink School in Burghfield Common, while others ride the same service for free.
The council will be introducing the price hike this September.
The service currently costs £250.
Parents Stacey Pulsakowska and Natalie Bartlett, of Aldermaston village, have now set up a petition in the hope of getting the council to reconsider the move.
In the online petition, Mrs Pulsakowska writes: “The Willink School is our catchment school, and a feeder school from Aldermaston Primary.
“If the increase is to go ahead our son, as well as other children who are to be charged this huge amount, will also miss out on the positive social benefits of travelling by bus, as well as the independence they get from using the service.”
This is the second such petition that has been started within a month after parents in Chieveley were also asked to pay £703 to get their children to The Downs School.
Mrs Bartlett, whose 11-year-old son, Alfie, is in Year 7 at The Willink, said: “The school bus collects children everyday from the same stop to take them to the same school to sit in the same class.
“But my son won’t be able to get on the bus from September unless we pay £700.
“Children 40 seconds up the road can get on the bus to school for free – it’s ridiculous.”
West Berkshire Council says the change will only affect children who go to their catchment school, but who live geographically closer to another school.
In this case Mrs Bartlett and her neighbour Mrs Pulsakowska, whose son Luke is also affected, live closer to the Hurst Community College in Baughurst, Hampshire.
In a letter to the council, Mrs Pulsakowska explained one of the reasons her son goes to The Willink was the provision of a school bus from the village.
Mrs Bartlett added: “The Willink is Alfie’s closest school in the district, it’s the closest one for him to travel to going on the footpaths and roads.
“I can’t take my rubbish to a Hampshire tip, it has to be a West Berkshire tip, so why should I have to put my son in a Hampshire school?
“There’s just no sense behind it at all. It’s mindless and ridiculous.”
West Berkshire Council spokeswoman Peta Stoddart-Crompton said the price increase was necessary after the council determined to remove the subsidy for the scheme.
To view the petition, visit www.change.org and search “The Willink”