Anger over price hike on Ottringham bus service
PARENTS are furious after charges were introduced on a East Riding Council bus service from Ottringham to Keyingham Primary School.
The East Riding Council's home-to-school transport service was free last term for residents in Ottringham, while an inspection was made on the safety of a public footpath.
Now the service costs £3.50 for a return trip.
People in the village live just less than two miles from the school, which means the bus service is not free.
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Frustratingly for Tara Murray, whose son Tyler catches the bus to the school, the family live just 329m shy of the two-mile cut-off.
She said: "We've been told by the council we don't qualify for free transport because we don't live more than two miles from the school. In our case, we live 1.8 miles away.
"It just seems we are being penalised for living where we do.
"My partner has to use his car for work and I work as a teaching assistant at another school, so we don't have a lot of choice in sending Tyler to school on the bus.
"You don't mind paying a bit but the one-way fare is £1.75 this term.
"You can't expect a six or seven- year-old to walk to and from school along the main road between Keyingham and Ottringham because it's too dangerous, so Tyler has to catch the bus if we can't arrange for someone to drop him off or pick him up."
In January, there were some concerns the footpath from Ottringham to the school was not a suitable walking route. While this was investigated, children were allowed to use the home-to-school transport without charge.
An assessment by a road safety engineer was carried out and the road was deemed to be a suitable walking route.
The council said parents were informed of this by letter last month and those who did not qualify for free transport on distance grounds would again have to pay fares when the children returned to school.
Nigel Cawood, who lives in Ottringham, 1.6 miles away from the school, said: "I think it is out of order to say it is a suitable walking route for infants.
"There have been a few accidents on the road in the past. I know the speed limit has been reduced from a 60mph to a 40mph zone but I still wouldn't walk with my kids along it. Drivers also ignore the speed limits.
"There are also no street lights on some sections of the footpath and with the dark nights, it is a concern."
Nigel has two children – Ben, 5, and Alix, 7.
The 38-year-old said: "It's frustrating we only live 1.6 miles away from the school and have to pay so much.
"It's already expensive enough with the school lunch costs and costs for the uniforms."
Paul Butler, access and inclusion manager at East Riding Council, said children younger than 8 have an entitlement to free transport to school if they live more than two miles away. For children aged 8 and older, this distance increases to three miles.
Mr Butler said: "Children living less than this distance are not entitled to free transport unless there are exceptional circumstances.
"Most children living in Ottringham are not entitled to free transport because, for most addresses in the village, the distance to Keyingham Primary School is less than two miles.
"Any child not entitled to free transport can still use the council's home-to-school bus services but parents will have to pay the standard fare."