Opposition is growing after council bosses passed plans to remove free school buses for hundreds of pupils .

Cabinet members have voted to approve plans which will mean that around 200 pupils at Tytherington School and Poynton High School who previously had a free bus service will instead be expected to walk along Middlewood Way, despite parents saying it is ‘unsafe’.

And nearly 100 pupils at Fallibroome will also lose their bus service after council bosses approved £80,000 plans to install a controlled crossing on Prestbury Road.

More than 900 people have now signed an online petition against the decision.

The Cabinet has voted to reclassify five routes to schools previously deemed to be unsafe and withdraw free transport for a total of 500 students from April 2017.

The move is expected to save £495,000 by 2019.

Four schools outside the Macclesfield borough will also be affected.

Headteachers Manny Botwe and David Waugh say the Middlewood Way disused railway line is too dangerous for students to walk and has urged the council to reconsider its plans.

It comes after Coun George Hayes, deputy cabinet member for children, told a meeting at Macclesfield Town Hall that the council was not responsible for the personal safety of the children on their way to school.

Quoting the adopted policy, he said: “Personal safety issues for children travelling alone are not to be considered [by the council]”.

But Manny Botwe, from Tytherington School, said the safety of children should be a priority.

He said: “This is about keeping young people safe, surely that has got to be paramount over saving people money.

“I’m not interested in the nitty gritty of policies, the question is, is it right and does it keep young people safe? And the answer is no.”

David Waugh, headteacher at Poynton High School, also criticised the council’s choice to go ahead with the decision without a consultation.

He said: “When did this reclassification happen and has the criteria changed?

“Are they applying less stringent criteria over the safety of our children?”

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Heidi Reid, who lives on Highfield Road in Bollington and whose son attends Tytherington School, said: “I’m just appalled that they are trying to force this through the back door.

“Absolutely nothing has changed since three years ago [on the Middlewood Way] when then council leader Michael Jones very publicly said that it was a dangerous route.

“There has been no further investment, not additional access points, and they haven’t improved the lighting - it’s just as dangerous as it always was.”

Tytherington High School headteacher Manny Botwe accused the council of putting costs over child safety.

Macclesfield MP David Rutley, who lives in Tytherington, said he will support the teachers’ campaign and agrees that the route is dangerous.

Cabinet also agreed to use £150,000 from the government’s Local Transport Plan Fund to improve further routes to schools over the next few years, including the route to Fallibroome High School.

Councillor Rachel Bailey, leader of Cheshire East Council , said: “The majority of our Cabinet members have either fully or partially walked at least one of the available walking routes, including the Bollington to Tytherington and Willaston to Malbank routes.

“However, it is for officers with the appropriate qualifications and experience to implement our approved policy and not the role of members to assess the routes.”

A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said there is no need for a consultation because they are implementing a policy which has already been approved.

He said: “There is no requirement to consult as we have previously consulted on the policy and this is now the implementation.

“As has previously been made clear, we are having continued discussions with the schools and parents of pupils who will be affected and of course parents can request a further review of the routes as part of the process moving forward.”

Sign the petition at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-tytherington-school-buses .