Mini-bus could be solution for pupils

A COMMUNITY mini-bus service has been suggested to help stranded town schoolchildren.

Last week the Herald revealed that up to 40 children from the Loansdean area had been left without a bus to Newminster and Chantry Middle Schools with the withdrawal of the 495 service by Astley Coaches.

Talks are ongoing to try to resolve the issue, led by local county councillor Andrew Tebbutt. A meeting earlier this week included parents, members of the county council’s transport support team and representatives from the schools.

A range of alternatives will be looked at, but parents of children who used the bus service will definitely need to make different arrangements for the school week beginning on Monday.

Although a service run by a commercial operator is the preferred option, a community scheme is also on the table.

Members of Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee will seek meetings with the county council to discuss tapping into funding through the Get Going scheme, which could lead to the provision of a mini-bus.

Coun Nic Best said: “The county has mentioned working with parish councils to discuss bidding for funding for community transport initiatives. Given the number of children coming down from Loansdean we could get some funding to run a mini-bus service as a commercially viable operation.”

Coun Tebbutt said: “It isn’t possible for the county council to subsidise the service because it doesn’t meet set criteria, but we’re working hard to find an alternative solution.”

See the Herald website for the latest on future meetings about the issue.