Burnley headteacher’s fury over school bus cuts

Blessed Trinity headteacher Richard Varey
Blessed Trinity headteacher Richard Varey

A Burnley headteacher has claimed his pupils could have been left stranded at bus stops after a vital service was scrapped.

Blessed Trinity College headteacher Mr Richard Varey branded Lancashire County Council’s decision to cancel one of the two buses on the 914 Clifton Farm route “ridiculous”.

He also slammed the timing of the announcement after only being told at 4-15pm on Wednesday the service would be discontinued the following morning.

Some 125 pupils currently use the service, which picks up from Ightenhill, but halving it would leave around 50 children unable to get to school.

“I couldn’t believe it when I was told on Wednesday that it would be cancelled,” said Mr Varey. “Some of these pupils have only just started school. There could have been 11-year-old children left stranded at bus stops.

“I got in touch with the council and they said they would continue it on Thursday for us but that would be it.”

Mr Varey then wrote a letter to parents telling them they may have to find alternative ways of getting their children to school on the Friday as a place on the remaining bus could not be guaranteed.

Fortunately a phone call to Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle helped ensure the service would continue for one more week giving the school more time to find a solution.

“We now have a few days to try to find a solution. As a headteacher I understand there are cuts everywhere but it’s just so frustrating. The school is thriving. We’ve just had the best results the school has ever had, everybody is really positive and now we’re having problems getting the children to school. It’s ridiculous.”

Tony Moreton, Lancashire County Council’s assistant director for sustainable transport, said: “We have to provide transport for students who live more than three miles from their nearest secondary school. If there are extra spaces on the bus, fare-paying students can travel on it too. This year there are more fare-paying students than the 914 bus can accommodate and we’d have to put on an additional bus for them. We’ve done this as a short-term measure, but as school buses are heavily subsidised, we can’t do this long-term as there are commercial bus services available.”

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