OUTRAGED parents fear a child will be abducted or killed waiting on a dark main road before the council steps in and sorts out a school bus nightmare.
Since the start of term the number of buses transporting pupils from Frodsham to Helsby High School has been cut in half, seeing children turned away from the oversubscribed buses and walking miles home along a dark and busy road.
Dozens of concerned parents are continuing to contact the school on a daily basis and are calling for immediate action by the school and local authority, as fears grow that a child will be ‘abducted’ or ‘killed’ while waiting outside the school in the cold and dark for the public bus.
But although staff at the school admit the situation is ‘far from perfect’, they insist their priority is ‘children’s safety’ and have reassured parents they are working hard to find a solution to the problem which has greatly improved over the past few weeks.
Colette Hitchmough, whose 11-year-old son attends the school, said although the children had been issued with coloured ‘boarding’ passes to indicate how far they have to travel, many of the children were still being left stranded and choosing to trek miles home rather than wait in the cold for the public bus.
“Starting school in September they were getting them on the buses, come three months later they are being turned away and told to get on public transport,” said Mrs Hitchmough, who works full time and is unable to pick up her son from school.
“It creates a great deal of uncertainty for parents. We do not know if our child has been able to board a school bus or whether he has stood for 35 minutes on the main road waiting for a public bus.
“There could be anyone driving past, it is horrible to think what could happen. If he misses the bus and has to walk home he has to walk 2.6 miles along a muddy footpath in the dark. It is not safe for any of the children.”
And Barry Kimber, whose daughter attends the school, said many of the parents were now picking up their children due to concerns over their safety, which he feared would result in an accident as children crossed the road.
Helsby High deputy head Steven Capstick said the situation had improved, but the system was still under review and the school was working hard to ‘fine tune’ the system.
“The main concern of this school and the local authority is the health and safety of the children,” said Mr Capstick, who is continuing to stand at the school gate to make sure the children get on the right bus every evening, and added the school’s hands were tied over the issue following the cuts by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
“Any child who wishes to catch the public bus can come back into school to wait. Any child who has transport issues can report to pupil services, which stays open until 4.30pm, where there are phones and alternative arrangements can be made.”
Cheshire West and Chester Council said they had ‘no statutory obligation’ to provide the additional service which was to transport former Frodsham High School students following its closure in 2009.