Following on from the last months Parish Council meeting in Long Hanborough, I suggested I would organise a meeting at County Hall with the Leader of the Council, Stagecoach, the Parent Group from Hanborough, Bartholomew School, representatives of Hanborough Parish Council and Officers from the Council.
This meeting took place on the 18th October and we had a good discussion around the issues with the current set up for getting school pupils to and from Bartholomew School that live in Hanborough. As I said last month the reason for the change this September was about trying to use existing transport that is already in place. This contract was issued to Stagecoach who added a shuttle service for Hanborough to and from the school.
I accept that on paper this idea probably seemed good in terms of the change saving the council money but importantly supporting the bus service which serves the community. However, it became clear quite quickly that there were issues with this arrangement.
After a further meeting with County Council officers on the 1st November we were presented with a few options by them. We (Myself, the school, Stagecoach and the Parent Group) agreed that the option of a coach service to replace the current shuttle service was the best option.
I am now pleased to update that the County Council have now agreed a way forward that does not include the need of a shuttle service which is currently in place. From the start of next term there will be a 75-seater bus run by Walters Coaches that will do a single journey to and from school. The Cassington bus will be increased to a 76-seater bus and the remaining seats will be made available on Bartholomew School’s privately-run bus.
Over the next week or two County Council Officers will formalise these arrangements contractually and assign the children to one of the three buses that will now be running through the village. They will then be able to communicate the arrangements out and produce bus passes for the children. This change is good news for the pupils in the earlier years of school but it is not such good news for the 6th Formers who will now have to wait for the 15:50 bus home. They will come into our thinking as we start planning what happens in the longer term.
I want to thank Philip Earnshaw and James Drew who are the officers at Oxfordshire County Council who have spent the past few weeks putting together ideas and sorting out the new arrangements. I also want to thank Ali Kane and the Parent Group for their input along with Lucy and Penelope from Hanborough Parish Council. My thanks also to Craig Thomas the head from Bartholomew School and to Martin Sutton the Managing Director of Stagecoach for his help.
This really has been a team effort and thank you to the parents of Hanborough for raising their concerns with me and for their patience with this matter.
Cllr Liam Walker