Fears for safety of schoolchildren as some bus services end

FEARS for the safety of Llanelli schoolchildren faced with long journeys when school bus services cease at the end of March have been voiced by leading Labour politicians.

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Some 200 or so children attending Ysgol Y Strade, Bryngwyn Comprehensive and St John Lloyd’s School will face treacherous weather and possible health and safety risks, warn councillors Rob Evans and Nysia Evans.

They argue that the closure-threatened L23, L24 and L27 services are vital.

In a joint statement, the two councillors said: We are raising our concerns that the welfare of the pupils travelling to and from school will be at risk due to health and safety issues.

Those pupils who do not qualify for free transport and fall into the three-mile radius of their school will be most at risk.

All pupils should arrive safely, dry and warm to carry out their education.

If there is no solution to this vital bus service then inevitably pupils’ education will be compromised especially at exam time.

We would like to liaise with Private bus companies to prevent the loss of these bus services, which are due to end towards the end of March.

The plans to reduce the school bus services have been condemned by Llanelli MP Dame Nia Griffith as completely unacceptable, She said the service cuts would force Llanelli families to make very difficult choices.

Ms Griffith, a former teacher herself, has raised the issue with Carmarthenshire Council on behalf of the communities affected asking for a full review of the situation and calling on the county council to pull out all the stops to put alternative arrangements in place as soon as possible.

Dame Nia said: The withdrawal of these vital services will cause major problems for many parents and pupils.
It will be especially difficult for those who live just within the three-mile boundary for the guaranteed transport provision but who still have a long way to travel to school.

It will also make things harder for those on low incomes or who have no alternative modes of transport available.
The MP said she realised the situation was complex and not easily solved but added that ending these routes would be completely unacceptable and have the potential to leave large numbers of pupils at a disadvantage.

Ms Griffith added that she hoped Carmarthenshire County Council would listen to the concerns of parents and pupils, with a quick and satisfactory solution vital for the well-being and educational needs of those pupils who depend on it, particularly with the exam season coming up.

Assembly Member Lee Waters said: Bus companies are struggling to make a profit all over the country and a number have withdrawn routes.
We need to work with the Council to make sure that there are enough buses on the key routes that people depend upon.
In the meantime, I’m working hard on a complete overhaul of the bus system to make sure it works for people and not profit.
County councillor Rob James said: Having campaigned on reliable, available and affordable public transport in Llanelli over recent years I am deeply concerned with the erosion of bus services.

We need to tackle the isolation of our older generations, particularly in rural communities, and dangerous walking conditions for our children in particular.

I sincerely hope that significant funding and reform bring improved services going forward.

County councillor for Bynea, cllr Deryk Cundy voiced concerns over the loss of further transport for schoolchildren following previous cuts in bus places to the schools from other areas.

He said: Labour councillors are fighting and campaigning hard to get services reinstated.

Carmarthenshire Council has been asked to send a representative of the school transport department and the Cabinet Member for Transport to attend an emergency meeting with parents at Felinfoel Rugby Club tonight (WED), March 6, at 6.30 pm.

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