Call for council to ‘come to the table’ for talks on school transport in Lincolnshire

People at a public meeting on school transport in Little Bytham. Photo: Kasia Doran. EMN-150127-094251001
People at a public meeting on school transport in Little Bytham. Photo: Kasia Doran. EMN-150127-094251001
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More than 30 people backed a campaign to get a secondary school transport policy reviewed during a public meeting.

Parents Jane King and Kasia Doran held the meeting in Little Bytham on Thursday last week to discuss transport in the Bythams, Creeton and the surrounding area.

A quirk of Lincolnshire County Council’s policy means children living in a small area of the south of the county, including the Bythams, Stamford and the Deepings, are only entitled to free transport to a secondary all-ability school. But children living in the majority of rest the county, apart from an area around Lincoln to the north, are also entitled to free transport to their nearest grammar school.

In practice, this means parents living in the Bythams area have to pay for transport if they want to send their children anywhere apart from Stamford Welland Academy. But Jane and Kasia, along with a number of other parents in the area, say the council should also provide free transport to Bourne Grammar School. Bourne and Stamford are almost exactly the same distance away from the Bythams.

Jane, who lives in Creeton, was delighted with the turnout at the public meeting. She said: “For our villages to get that number of people together is substantial.

“The parish councils attended and were really supportive and helpful. They weren’t aware that it’s such a big issue.”

According to the county council’s school services manager David Robinson, free transport to grammar schools is a “discretionary policy” available to children if they live in a “designated transport area” or DTA. About two thirds of Lincolnshire is covered by these areas.

He added: “The grammar school DTAs are long-standing and are there to give transport to children around the grammar schools. No new grammar schools have been created in the last 30 years so there has been no requirement to create new DTAs.”

Jane and Kasia want the council to review its policy and, backed by other parents, hope to draw up an action plan for their campaign. They have been trying to arrange a face-to-face meeting with the council’s executive member for children’s services Patricia Bradwell (Con), but with no luck yet.

“What we want them to do is acknowledge that they need to look at this so it’s a fair policy,” said Jane.

“We’re going to write to Coun Bradwell again to ask if she will come to meet us.”