School transport plea

THIS IS an email I have sent to West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council.

I am writing about the recent changes to school transport for church-aided schools.

I emailed Andy Warton of Chichester District Council in July, 2008, about the lack of public transport throughout Itchenor.

However, he responded concluding that transport for Itchenor has always been poorly supported.

I can now argue the case and prove that there are many people who need – and will support – public transport.

I attend Bishop Luffa Secondary School and have recently been told about the proposed changes to school transport for church aided schools.

I, and many others attending Bishop Luffa school, feel this is very unfair as ALL our parents are council tax payers.

However, we do not seem to be entitled to the council facilities that we HAVE to pay council tax for.

It seems as though we are being penalised for choosing a mixed gender school based in Chichester.

We could have gone to Chichester High School for Girls, but we chose to attend a mixed gender school for social reasons, such as everyday life, where we are faced with communities of mixed gender and race; communities are NOT just one gender.

I do feel that our case is very particular as we live further than two miles from a public bus stop and seven miles from Chichester.

Could you tell me how you expect myself and my younger sister, who is joining Bishop Luffa in September, to travel to school?

I hope that you are well aware of the very poor facilities we have in Itchenor to get to a public bus stop.

If not I will list them now – no street lighting, no public footpath, no telephone box for emergency calls (it was never replaced after it was hit by a car), no cats’ eyes in the road.

Itchenor’s main road is VERY dangerous to walk down without reflective clothing.

I hope you do not expect us to walk over two miles from our house, (which takes about half-an-hour) at 6.30am (as Bishop Luffa starts at 7.55am) with none of the above facilities?

Andy Warton said before that one of the problems was the lack of turning points in the village for these large vehicles but I can prove that three school buses have been able to turn around at the end of the village every school morning!

I can list many children who live in Itchenor full-time in need of public and school transport to Chichester.

I understand people from other villages have access to public transport more easily than us, therefore this does not become such a concern to them, however, our case does seem very particular.

I know of other cases where the child has got a free taxi service from the council, to take him from his house to the bus stop, because he lives in excess of two miles from the school and bus stop,

If the school transport HAS to be taken away then I feel we are entitled to another form of transport, such as a minibus or taxi for these children.

After-all it is the LAW that we attend school and it seems that we are being restricted on this access to travel.

I also recollect that you proclaimed how you were uncertain about the future of the small village bus that comes into Itchenor at 9.20am (when children are at school) and travels to Selsey.

This seems to be a waste of transport and I agree this is poorly supported due to the ludicrous timetable of leaving at 9.20am and returning before 12pm, leaving you only 20-30 mins in the village of Selsey before you have to make your way back again.

Had this bus travelled into Chichester it would certainly be used more often!

You, as a council, do seem to be very concerned about being GREEN and environmentally friendly yet not supplying these children with shared transport on a bus/coach, results in more cars on the road emitting more toxic fuels, which goes against everything you try to support.

I am not asking for you to pay fully for transport, we merely need means of safe transport to school.

Emily Harding Bond

Inhabitant of Itchenor and Pupil of Bishop Luffa School