A FLINTSHIRE Councillor has warned the authority against thinking about axing a school bus route between villages to save money.

Hope Councillor Gladys Healey (Lab) expressed her concerns for the future of the route between Penyffordd and her village, which is travelled by pupils attending Castell Alun High School.

She fears the loss of transport could lead to crimes and even abductions.

Cllr Healey aired her views during a meeting of the council’s environment scrutiny committee which discussed pressures on the Streetscene budget and options for the future.

Savings could result from the withdrawal of school transport due to the routes no longer considered to be hazardous as a result of improved infrastructure.

Officers assured councillors that nothing has been decided and that they would be consulted if any proposals were put forward.

The Leader: Cllr Gladys HealeyCllr Gladys Healey

Earlier this year work to create a safe travel route in the form of a cycle path and footway running from Penyffordd to Hope was completed, funded by the Welsh Government, but dubbed locally since as the ‘cycle path to nowhere’.

Part of the reason for the work was to improve the viability of active travel and sustainable journeys along the A550 Penyffordd to Hope, whilst improving safety and accessibility and around Castell Alun High School and Ysgol Estyn Primary School.

But Cllr Healey queried the review of hazardous routes and savings that could be made by withdrawing school transport from Penyffordd to Hope.

She said the cycle path has not proved popular with cyclists and that there have also been reports of crimes being committed along the route.

“There was funding for safer routes in Hope – this was used for the bicycle route from Penyffordd to Hope”, Cllr Healey said.

“At the moment I have had reports from cyclists who say it’s very hazardous, they don’t use it because of driveways off houses – it’s more dangerous for them to go on the cycle route than to go on the road.

“If it’s for children to walk, there has been reports of drug dealing on this stretch of route as well as sexual activities which I did report when the cycle path was being built.

The Leader: Castell Alun High SchoolCastell Alun High School

“It would be very hazardous for children walking from Penyffordd to Hope. Who is going to take responsibility for this when children are being accosted or hurt, or even worse, abducted?

“Is this just left for officers to approve without consultation with the ward councillor, the parents and the school?

“I would like you all to keep in mind this route would be very, very hazardous. I know it will save some money but it won’t save a considerable amount of money.”

Cllr Healey added: “It won’t help with the congestion in Hope.

“By the Co-op, around there is a lot of congestion. With taking the route away more parents will be transporting their children instead of letting them walk such a hazardous route.”

“This should not just be determined by officers.”

Streetscene chief officer Katie Wilby assured councillors that nothing has been agreed regarding any of the routes, but they were due for review anyway.

“These are options”, she said.

“This has not been agreed at all, these are options that have been put forward.

“We are really finding it more and more challenging to find savings without doing really contentious or sensitive things.

“Just to make you aware we have about a dozen hazardous routes across the county, not just in Hope and Penyffordd.

“These routes were last reviewed in 2016 / 2017, we’ve built a number of safer routes in communities and active travel routes in that time.

“They haven’t been reviewed in reflection of those developments so we do need to revisit them. No agreement has been made to actually withdraw a hazardous route, and that would be subject to committee approval anyway.

“These are purely proposals and options for you to consider today and these are the kinds of things we’re having to look at, at this stage, but no agreement has been made.”