Parents slate local authority for axing primary school bus service
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
Angry parents have slammed Conwy Council for cutting a bus service for a primary school located on a “dangerous” road.
The bus picks up and drops off pupils attending Ysgol Pencae on Graiglwyd Road, Penmaenmawr, making stops opposite the park and the village’s New York Cottages.
The “non-statutory” bus service is believed to have been running for around 30 years and helps reduce traffic outside the primary school.
The cut to the service comes after the council slashed school budgets by 5% across the board in March, forcing staff redundancies and loan applications from other primary schools.
Now angry parents fear Graiglwyd Road will become overrun with traffic, increasing the likelihood of an accident on a road that, on some sections, doesn’t have pavements.
Conwy Council said the road had been reassessed, and was no longer classed as hazardous.
Mum Katie Hughes, 31, has three children aged ten, eight, and five attending the school.
“For the past 30-plus years, there has been a school transport bus to take the children safely up to school. Conwy County Council deemed the road hazardous themselves,” she said.
“But parents got a letter last Friday afternoon to say, as from September, they are cancelling the transport for the children.
“They now deem it a safe route, but from what we gather, nothing has been done to ensure safety. There has been no improvement.”
The parents also say traffic is likely to increase following a recent housing development on Graiglwyd Road being granted planning permission.
Katie added: “We just don’t understand how, after 30-plus years, that all of a sudden, without any improvements, or anything whatsoever, now the road is suddenly safe.
“We are concerned this is a cost-cutting exercise that is putting children’s safety at risk.
“There are two large sections of the road that have no pavements.
“It’s a blind corner. It is very narrow. You can’t get two cars up there side by side, let alone parents with prams.
“The cars are trying to squeeze past, on a road that is so unkempt.
“There are potholes. Cars are driving into the middle of the road to avoid getting damaged.
“It is just so dangerous. There is no way I will let my kids walk home from school.
“Even when my eldest goes into year six, he will not be allowed to walk home.
“It is not safe. Is it going to take a child to be hit for the council to say, ‘it’s not safe?’ You will have parents who can’t get their children to school, disabled parents, disabled grandparents.”
Sian Knight-Gennoe, 32, from Penmaenmawr, has two children aged six and three and said she would now have to walk four miles a day to collect and pick up her children at different times.
“I’m quite annoyed. My youngest, who is three, will be walking four miles a day,” she said.
“It seems like the council is just cutting costs. I left the school in 2002. There was a bus service then. Nothing has changed since I was here.
“The roads are still covered in potholes. If they’re cutting the buses, there’s going to be more traffic.
“I don’t have another option apart from walking. My youngest is quite slow walking, and I’ve worked out I’ll end up walking four hours a day. They are only in school for six hours, so I might as well stay up here!”
Jenny Seddon, 40, also from Penmaenmawr, has a five-year-old son and feared the school run would now fall on her 74-year-old grandfather.
“I’m a bit worried about safety on the road,” she said.
“It’s very helpful having all the children on the bus, minimising cars on the road.
“There are lots of blind spots and tight bends on the way to the school coming up the hill. You often have tractors trying to come up, lorries. You have to have your eyes peeled all the time.”
Shelby Bleveland, 30, said she was a wheelchair user and has a son aged five, making the road difficult.
“I’m not happy with the council’s decision. The road will be hazardous. I’m worried about accidents, especially in the winter when it’s still dark. It gets slippery with all the leaves,” she said.
Lisa Goodier, the chair of governors at the school, added: “I think it is disappointing, the ongoing cost-cutting being imposed on the education system as a whole by Conwy County Council. Every child has the right to the best start in life.”
Cllr Julie Fallon, cabinet member for education at Conwy Council, said: “This route has been reassessed, and it’s no longer classed as hazardous.
“We’ve written to the parents/carers whose children currently receive free transport on this route to let them know that, from September 2023, we will no longer be able to provide the service and that it will be parental responsibility to ensure children travel to and from school safely.”
She added: “Pupils currently receiving statutory home to school transport are not affected by this change.”
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