Parents win day with Wrexham school bus rethink

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

DELIGHTED parents cheered as councillors agreed last night to look again at changing the school transport policy.

Dozens of parents and children turned up at an extraordinary full council meeting at the Guildhall in Wrexham and later said they were “thrilled” that the executive would reconsider the policy next week.

An executive board meeting on Tuesday will look for a second time at whether to change the policy so that children would only be offered free bus travel to their nearest school from 2012.

The policy agreed by the executive board on May 11 angered many parents in Chirk because their children have historically received free school transport to Ysgol Dinas Bran in Llangollen. Under the new policy they would only get free buses to Ysgol Rhiwabon

Chirk North councillor Ian Roberts pleaded at last night’s meeting for the issue to be reconsidered and he won the day by a 24-20 majority.

“I don’t think I have been as passionate about something which is affecting my community as today,” Cllr Roberts said.

“Our parents and children will be affected educationally, economically and personally.

“These are traditional and family links.

“These links have been defined for 116 years. I just don’t know what we are trying to do to break them.”

Gwenfro councillor Neil Rogers said the change of policy would also affect children who live in Llay and go to Castell Alun High School in Hope and those who live in Marchwiel and go to the Maelor School in Penley.

He added that Ysgol Rhiwabon did not have the space to cope with all the pupils who normally go to Dinas Bran.

Council leader Aled Roberts argued that a decision about the school transport policy had been “ducked” out of since 1996.

“I accept it’s a controversial issue,” he said.

“I accept people have strong feelings about this but we need to ensure that resources are put into frontline services in education and schools.”

Cllr Roberts confirmed the free bus travel would be to the nearest Welsh school but that if an English school was nearer, and parents wanted an English school, the
council would pay for that.

Speaking after the meeting parent Jacqueline Harrison welcomed the decision.

She has two daughters who currently attend Dinas Bran and a 10-year-old daughter who is due to join the school in 2011.

“If they stop the free transport my youngest will have to go to a different school,” she said.

“I want her to go to Dinas Bran but the cost of transport means it wouldn’t be possible.”

Sam Hughes from Chirk added that everybody was thrilled by the decision.

See full story in the Leader

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