A campaign to save a free school bus has failed to win the council’s backing.
Cheshire East Council’s cabinet has today (Tuesday, October 18) decided that it will not fund a school bus for students travelling from Bollington to Tytherington School.
This comes despite a hard fought campaign from parents, teachers, students and councillors who all claim the walking routes are too dangerous, with former Council Leader Coun Michael Jones also throwing his weight behind the campaign.
Manny Botwe, headteacher of Tytherington School, says he will continue the fight to save the bus, which currently provides 171 Macclesfield children with a free school bus transfer.
Speaking immediately after the meeting, in which cabinet members voted in favour of withdrawing the provision, Mr Botwe said: “We are disappointed but won’t give up the fight. They’ve not heard the last of us.
He added: “It’s very rare that you have cross party support, and support from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, there has been such a weight of opinion.”
During the meeting campaigners raised concerns about emergency services being unable to access the Middlewood way, a bridle path between Bollington and Tytherington School.
Mr Botwe said: “I have not spoken to a single member of the emergency services who thinks it is a good idea yet the report presented to cabinet implies emergency services don’t have an issue with this. I call on the authorities to make public the interaction between the emergency services on this matter.
Coun Laura Jeuda agreed that the Middlewood Way route was unsafe.
She said: “I find it astonishing that most of this cabinet has not walked this route that I believe is putting children at risk.”
Macclesfield Central ward councillor Beverley Dooley also raised safety concerns, saying: “Police concerns are the opportunist looking to cause harm, then we have the clown craze which for others has been quite traumatic.”
Mum Heidi Reid, from Highfield Road in Bollington, whose son attends Tytherington School, said: “An available route is one that can be reasonably walked but the Suzy Lamplugh Trust believe the Middlewood Way is unsafe to walk. The trust feels strongly this will put pupils at an unacceptable level of risk.
“Local paramedics have confirmed that for a child or adult requiring emergency assistance there is no emergency vehicle access.”
But director of Education Jacky Forster said the emergency services had confirmed they would be able to access the route. She said: “Emergency services have confirmed they would have access to locked gates and doors through using bolt cutters.”
The council’s cabinet had already voted to axe the free buses but the second cabinet meeting was scheduled after a cross-party scrutiny committee decided the available walking routes recommended by cabinet, including the Middlewood Way, from Bollington to Tytherington, were unsafe.