A CHAIR of governors has expressed concern about changes to school bus services just weeks before the start of the new term.
As reported in the Leader on Friday, families in Trevor with children at Garth School will have to pay £50 per term per child in advance for school transport – or else make their own way there, according to letters sent from Wrexham Council.
On Wednesday, families will make their feelings known in a protest at the bottom of Garth Hill, fearing the hill will see more traffic and pedestrians using the road – and some parents with multiple children will have to fork out for formerly free transport.
A public meeting will also take place on Wednesday evening, at the Garth/Trevor Community Centre at 7pm.
A member of the council has accepted an invitation to attend.
Gerard Bateman, chairman of the Dee Valley Federation of Schools Governing Body, said: “As chair of governors and a parent, I’m very concerned by this development regarding transport to Garth CP and all its potential implications – and particularly the safety of our pupils.
“The Dee Valley Federation was formed in January 2014 to support and keep our three local village schools open.
“There has been no attempt by the local authority to contact or consult with the new governing body or new head teacher in regard to the enforcement and changes to the transport policy prior to the notification letter we all received from the council at the beginning of August.
“As Garth Road has been designated a hazardous route by the local authority in 2013, our main concern is for the safety of all our pupils at school and getting to school.
“Due to several factors school transport has been provided free of charge over the last school year in line with Welsh Goverment guidance.
“As governors we wish to work together with the local authority and bring this matter to a satisfactory and safe conclusion.
“I urge those involved to attend the public meeting so the matter can be discussed with parents, councillors and governors openly.
“I’d like to thank all those who have shown support so far.”
While families living at the foot of the hill will continue to receive free transport, children in neighbouring Trevor, which is just a few hundred yards down the road, will have to pay for the same route.
The council stepped in to provide a free bus after public service buses were withdrawn in the summer last year. They agreed to provide the service until a review had taken place.
But parents say they have not been involved in any consultation, and are angry that the changes were announced so close to the start of the new term.
A council spokesman said: “We are applying the policy in relation to Garth School the same as we apply it to every other area – that we will provide transport to the nearest suitable school if this is over two miles distance away (for primary schools).
“We will, however, not provide transport to schools which are not the nearest.
“In cases where spare seats are available for non-qualifying pupils, we offer them for a charge, which is £50 per term.
“There has been no change of policy – we are only applying the same policy that has been in effect since September 2012, which was endorsed as “fit for purpose” by the Executive Board in May 2013.
“It was made known to parents and other stakeholders that the arrangements for 2013-14 were temporary and we’d only be providing free transport to qualifying pupils from September 2014.”