Row over school service

July 26 2022

THE future of school bus services for pupils attending Winterbourne Academy from the Downend area has sparked a political row.

South Gloucestershire's Conservative-run cabinet has accused Labour Metro Mayor Dan Norris of "refusing funding" for the 427, 458, 459 and 460 services, run until now by Stagecoach.

But Mr Norris says the council has a "statutory duty" to provide transport for some of the children using the services.

Stagecoach told the council it would be withdrawing commercial routes for pupils from Frenchay, Downend, Lyde Green, Emersons Green, Bromley Heath, Frampton Cotterell, Coalpit Heath, Bradley Stoke, Stoke Gifford and Patchway to Winterbourne Academy from September.

Announcing a deal for the council to fund them, cabinet member Steve Reade said: “I am pleased we have been able to work alongside Winterbourne Academy to save these buses and keep public transport serving pupils. I am, however, extremely concerned that the WECA Mayor felt ensuring local children have a sustainable method of getting to school was not worth support and was happy to shirk his responsibilities once again, leaving the council to pick up the pieces.”

But Mr Norris said: "Once again, South Gloucestershire Tories are dealing in half truths. Like all councils that have combined authorities, it is South Gloucestershire Council that pays the transport levy, like they pay for rat catchers, social services and other statutory services. 

“But while they offer lots of warm words, they don’t put their money where their mouth is when it comes to transport funding. Despite their huge reserves, South Glos spends much less per head on the levy to support vitally needed public transport than councils in places like Manchester."