Lancashire County Council are looking to save £46m by 2022/23 via a package of measures including subsidised Home-School Bus Services. The change will apply from September 2020 if confirmed.Lancashire County Council are currently consulting on the withdrawal of the 623 Bus which goes from the The Trader's Arms, Mellor, via Ramsgreave, Wilpshire and Salesbury to Clitheroe Royal Grammar School once in the morning and returning once after school.
On 3 December 2018, the county council's Cabinet agreed in principle to remove the funding for school bus services where there have been no students who are entitled to free home to school transport or school transport assistance travelling for two years and where the revenue from fares and season tickets does not cover the cost of the service. This agreement in principle is subject to the outcome of this consultation on the proposal.
Councillor Noel Walsh states, “Frankly Lancashire County Council could have saved themselves the money, time and effort – a simple observational study – a head-count on any day of the week when this service is running would have revealed that this is a busy and well-used service. This is a box ticking exercise. There are a number of children from Mellor who attend CRGS and if the service were discontinued it would put the education of existing CRGS pupils at risk making it difficult for very able pupils to get there in the morning at the start of the school day and to return home in the evening. This has not been a terribly well thought out exercise. It may well be the case that no students entitled to free home to school transport have applied to use the service over the past two years or school transport assistance travelling for two years and where the revenue from fares and season tickets does not cover the cost of the service. It is clear that many are paying for daily or weekly tickets. If the subsidy disappeared however this would force the cost of tickets up thereby placing pressure on families with young children by eating into disposable incomes and possibly putting the Longridge Coach Company which provides the service in jeopardy. We should be encouraging the most able children to attend the best schools rather than discouraging them by making it impossible to get there.”
The 626 runs from outside The Traders Arms, Mellor to Clitheroe Royal Grammar School via Ramsgreave, Wilpshire and Salesbury departing at 7:35 and arriving at 8:45. The service returns home leaving Clitheroe Royal Grammar School at 14.40 arriving in Mellor at 15:28 and again at 15.50 arriving at 16.38. The 775 runs from outside the Fieldens Arms at Mellor Brook to Clitheroe Royal Grammar School departing at 8.00 and arriving at 8:4o. The service returns home leaving Clitheroe Royal Grammar School at 14.25 arriving in Mellor Brook at 15:20 and again at 15.40 arriving at 16.35.
Councillor Stella Brunskill states “I will be working closely with Councillor Noel Walsh to put as much pressure on County Councillor Alan Schofield who represents Ribble Valley South West in which the Mellor & Balderstone Ward falls to maintain the service and to listen to the Voices of Mellor Residents and not to cut CRGS pupils in Mellor off. Even where revenue from fares and season tickets currently covers the cost of the service it could nevertheless still be at risk if the subsidised income covering those entitled to free home-school transport drops markedly. In many of the areas where these buses stop there is no service bus that would take children to and from school. Therefore we are calling upon the County Council to think again.”
Councillor Brunskill continues, “We would encourage parents of children attending CRGS to complete the Official School Transport Consultation Survey which can be found at:
People need to make their views on these proposed changes loud and clear so that the Cabinet at Lancashire Council will be forced to consider your responses very carefully before making what we hope will be the right decision – not to terminate the service. Time is of the imperative because the consultation is due to end Next Monday on April 8. In the meantime we encourage residents to ignore on-line consultations and petitions other than the official one.”
Keen eyed Ribble Valley Conservative Association Member Mel Russell has complained about the on-line Petition against the ending of the 623 Service placed on the Mellor & District Voices Facebook Page by the Liberal Democrat’s accusing them of engaging in a deliberate data gathering exercise to be used to their electoral advantage rather than genuine political lobbying on behalf of the residents of Mellor.
Councillor Ged Mirfin who is the Deputy Chair (Political) of Ribble Valley Conservative Association states, “This is no more than a cynical and disingenuous ploy on behalf of the Liberal Democrats. Political Action Groups ought to be wholly independent of Political Parties like the Save Whalley Library Campaign which I was one of the Co-Leaders of. The Addresses and Additional Data relating to Single Issue Campaigns should Remain Confidential and not be Shared for the Use in Nakedly Political Electioneering Campaigns. I am deeply concerned that the Data on 131 Voters has thus far been captured and call on the Liberal Democrats to delete this Data as it is clearly not part of the Official Consultation Process.”
The Administrators of the Mellor And District Voices Facebook Page made it clear, “this page is not here for any political party or individual to try and score brownie points” and that the Administrators will in future, “delete any and all such attempts.”