Warwick parents once again fighting to keep school bus service

In June 2020 The Courier ran a story about Warwickshire County Council (WCC) withdrawing the bus service and parents were growing increasingly concerned about how their children would get to school

Parents in Warwick are once again fighting to try and keep a bus service that their children use to get to and from school.

The 529 bus service goes via the Percy Estate, through the Woodloes, Cape Road, and the Wedgnock estate carrying pupils to Aylesford School.

In June 2020 The Courier ran a story about Warwickshire County Council (WCC) withdrawing the bus service.

Parents in Warwick are once again fighting to try and keep a bus service that their children use to get to school

Then in August 2020 the council announced that they would be reinstating the service on a one-year contract with a review at the end of the academic year.

This news was welcomed by parents, councillors and the Warwick and Leamington MP who all lobbied to keep the service.

But now parents say they are facing the bus service being taken away again and have launched a petition.

According to the parents, the council have suggested that children from Woodloes can catch a bus to Warwick Station and then change to another bus which goes to Aylesford School.

Ellie Leach, who is a parent on the Woodloes and campaigning to save the bus service said: "Our children have had so much disruption in the last twelve months, that we don’t need this now.

"The transition to secondary school is an enormous leap and whilst children need to learn independence, the thought of an 11-year-old having to go across town and catch two buses, I find very worrying.

"It would also mean youngsters catching the bus at 7.30am and not returning home until 4.30pm, just to get across Warwick.

“I know in the winter or when it’s wet, many parents will use their cars to get their children to school, adding to the already chaotic morning Warwick traffic.

“We pay for this service and are happy to pay, to get our children safely to school.

"We are not asking for something for nothing, just a safe school bus.

"We’ve got a petition up on the Warwickshire County Council website and we want as many people are possible to sign, so we can try and save the service.

Woodloes and All Saints Town Councillor, Jackie D’Arcy, who is standing for Warwick North in the forthcoming county council elections said: “Parents need certainty about school transport and I’m shocked that the County Council are yet again trying to cut this bus.

"This is going to affect parents all the way across Warwick North and I want to do all I can to fight to save this bus service.”

“I particular sympathise with parents worry about safety, especially in the winter months.

"Whilst I would always encourage students to walk to school if possible, this clearly isn’t possibly from Woodloes to Aylesford.

" Also, the council have made big commitments to reduce its carbon footprint and this cancellation goes against that as we know buses keep cars off the roads, so much for caring for the environment.

“Once again this is an example of a Conservative-controlled county council and local councillor who are not putting the health and safety of our families first.”

John Holland, County Councillor for Warwick West, who had been part of a campaigned to save the bus route said: “I can’t see that cutting this bus makes any sense.

"Aside from the fact that students need a safe way to get across Warwick, cutting the bus will inevitably mean more cars on the road.

"We all know what a problem congestion is in Warwick, particularly in the morning.

"In addition, we have a major problem with air quality, and I would urge a rethink of this decision urgently.”

MP for Warwick and Leamington Matt Western said: “Once again, I have been contacted by parents who have been told the vital bus service which runs from Woodloes to Aylesford School is being withdrawn in September.

“Last year, I supported parents and the community to get the axe lifted.

“If scrapped it could leave nearly 40 students without a valued and safe bus journey home.

“It is beggars belief we find ourselves in the same position but determined local parents have started a petition to save the service and they have my full support.

“We need a long-term solution for future students of Aylesford School.”

A spokesperson from Warwickshire County Council said: "Service 529 was extended for one additional year using the Covid additional services fund, designed to keep students off public transport and in a safe school bus environment during the pandemic.

"This fund is due to expire at the end of this Academic year and there are no plans to extend the service beyond this date.

"All customers are advised to use the Stagecoach service or walk/cycle if they wish to do so.

"The Stagecoach service from the Woodloes area is service 1.

"At the moment, students would need to change at Warwick bus station onto another service (X18 or 15) to finish the journey down to the school.

"We are in discussions with Stagecoach to see if they would be willing to extend service 1 at peak times down to Chase Meadow so that students can stay on the bus and remove the need to change services.

"Unfortunately, due to Covid, bus timetables are constantly changing to accommodate the various changes so it is difficult to give anyone timings for September at this stage."