Campaign to save Ferndown school bus
ANGRY parents from the Heatherlands Estate who are threatened with the loss of the bus taking their children to and from school met with councillors on Thursday to plan an action campaign.
The 844 service carrying children between the estate and Ferndown schools is threatened as part of the review of bus subsidies being carried out by Dorset County Council because it is not part of its statutory responsibility to provide transport over such a short distance.
The meeting agreed to write to their county councillors and the leader of Dorset County Council Spencer Flower, asking for reconsideration of the proposal.
Campaigner John Hanrahan from the local community centre said they also considered whether to stage a protest by inviting the decision makers to join them on the 'school run', first walking their children to school, then walking again at lunchtime to collect the younger age group, and in some cases for a third time in the afternoon to collect the older ones.
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"Some of our parents have children attending both the infants and junior schools and will end up walking eight miles a day, while other do not have the option of driving them to school, and the main road is a dismal place to be in the rain or in the dark in winter," said Mr Hanrahan.
Ferndown town councillor Basil Barnett said: "There is a real need for the school bus from Heatherlands to the centre of Ferndown.
"The decision is being taken in Dorchester by a group of councillors who have little in common with the estate, but the support from the local councillors was clear.
"The meeting was attended by county, district and town councillors and community representatives, and we heard many stories of real hardship that will follow if we lose the bus service."
Ferndown county councillor and chairman of Dorset County Council John Wilson said: "I wasn't able to attend the meeting, but this service takes about 40 children to the first and middle schools in Ferndown, and Ian Smith, my fellow Ferndown county councillor, and I have spent a lot of a time discussing it with officers. The proposal to remove its subsidy is part of a complex countywide issue.
"It would be desirable to keep it in its present form because it is in an area of some deprivation where the benefits of getting 40 children to school safely and on time are considerable. It allows mums to be in employment which they would not be able to do if they were having to walk to and from school twice a day, and there are all sort of reasons why it should be preserved in some form or another."