Uproar as price of bus subsidy cuts is revealed

NRHNBE111026a1, Heanorgate science college bus cut from horsley woodhouse. Lauren and dad Alex Males at the bus stop.
NRHNBE111026a1, Heanorgate science college bus cut from horsley woodhouse. Lauren and dad Alex Males at the bus stop.

PARENTS in Horsley Woodhouse are in uproar over news of a bus service price hike following Derbyshire County Council’s decision to cut funding to 73 school routes.

The authority will cease to subsidise the Lavender Line 466 route, which takes 32 pupils from the village to Heanor Gate Science College, in April.

The cuts could see the authority save £936,000 from its yearly transport budget.

This week it was revealed Horsley Woodhouse youngsters could see their bus fare rise from 50p to £4.50 a day unless a parents’ group can guarantee the bus firm operating the service numbers more than 30 passengers a day.

Classroom assistant Paula Nash, 42, of Fairfield Road, in the village would have to pay £9 daily for her son and daughter to use the service if parents cannot guarantee Lavender Line a full bus.

She said: “I’m not happy really, I don’t even know how they are going to get there unless they walk.

“I have two other kids that I have to get ready for primary school.

“You know a bus is going to come and take them straight there and they will be safe. If they are walking you are going to have to check up on them, especially in the dark.”

Business owner Alex Males, 47, of Meadow Close in the village has two daughters who regularly use the 466.

But he said the village will not be able to guarantee Lavender Line 50 regular passengers, a full to capacity bus, which it says it will need to run the service for £1.25.

He said: “We will struggle to get 50 on a daily basis, a lot of people don’t use that service every day. Once the price goes up people will be mindful of the cost even more so.

“A lot of people here are expecting it to disappear completely and make their own arrangements. We have already spoke to friends about doing that.”

Heanor Gate says it will help parents form a working group which will attempt to organise 50 passengers on the service.

Derbyshire County Council have said it does not legally have to provide a bus service to children over the age of eight who live within three miles of their school or under eights who live within two miles, unless the route is considered dangerous.

Cabinet member for education Cllr Mike Longden has defended the subsidy cuts by calling them ‘unfair’ on 90,000 children who do not receive subsidised travel

John Lavender, owner of Lavender Line said the cost of the un-subsidised 466 is not ‘set in stone’.

He said: “I just want to finish up providing a good service at a reasonable price so that the parents and the schools are all happy and safe. We will keep it as economical as possible but we cannot guarantee anything at the moment.

“We need the support of people from Horsley Woodhouse and all along that route.”