CHILDREN were 'left in the lurch' after a commercial bus service was withdrawn, leaving them without transport to school.

Parents in Mancot and Sandycroft received an email from Hawarden High School on Wednesday advising a double decker commercial bus service to and from the school had been withdrawn.

Flintshire Council has since confirmed the P&O Lloyd bus service, serving Manor Lane to Deeside College via Hawarden High School, was a commercial service operated directly by the bus company, and that the authority has no control over the decision for its withdrawal.

The council called the problems generated 'unfortunate' and encouraged parents who feel they may be eligible to apply for free school transport.

One parent, who did not want to be named, told the Leader her child had been refused a pass and spoke of her astonishment at the service withdrawal.

She said: "To let us know the day the school starts again is ridiculous, they have really left us and the children in the lurch.

"It seems at the moment that unless you're three miles from the school you're not going to get a [free] pass."

Natasha McGuigan, who lives near Sandycroft, told the Leader her 15-year-old daughter will have to face an hour's walk uphill on her own to get home each day if she doesn't manage to get a lift with friends.

Miss McGuigan, 40, said: "It is one of the reasons we chose that school, because it has a bus, and I am sure many parents are the same.

"We only heard about it on the evening of the first day back at school by email - we had no notice at all.

"The only way my daughter can get to school now is if my partner makes himself late for work to take her and coming home she's going to have an hour's walk on her own, which I'm not happy about.

"The only other way would be if she managed to get a lift with friends - I can't walk her home because I have a young son and a heart condition.

"I have applied for a pass but I'm not hopeful I'll get one."

Flintshire Council’s chief officer for streetscene and transportation, Steve Jones, said: “The P&O Lloyd bus service, serving Manor Lane to Deeside College (via Hawarden High School), was a commercial bus service operated directly by the bus company.

"The council has no control over commercial bus services and bus companies are free to change or withdraw services as they see fit and this can be for any reason, but especially where they are not profitable.

“It is unfortunate that the withdrawal of the service yesterday morning caused problems for a number of school pupils who pay to use the service who were unaware that the service had been withdrawn but, as the children travel to the school independently, there are no records of users that would allow either the Council or the operator to contact the pupils affected by the change.

"We are working with the school to provide parents/carers with the advice and guidance they need in this instance.

“Flintshire Council provides free school transport to pupils who meet the eligibility criteria but where children are not eligible, it is the parents/carers’ responsibility to get their children to and from school.

"An online school transport application form, along with information about eligibility and a set of useful frequently asked questions can be found on the Council’s website.

“If parents feel they are eligible, they should apply for free school transport as early as possible before the start of the school year to make sure their application is processed ready for September.”