New Longton farmer Daniel Crosshead’s step-daughter, Paige is a pupil at New Longton Primary School and will be attending Penwortham Girls High School in September, so the family applied for a £500 bus pass for the 680 school bus, within three days of applications opening.
However they, and seven other girls at the primary school, were told by Lancashire County Council that this bus was too full, and their children would need to find another form of transportation.
Daniel, 34, who also has a five-year-old child at New Longton and a three-year-old starting in a year’s time, said: “It sounds ridiculous, but at the same time, it's just not that shocking anymore, because everything seems crazy. It just seems like you go to work, you pay all your bills, your council tax, and yet you’re basically told no.
“Why aren’t they prioritising year sevens? It just seems silly to me. I had an email which basically says that the council are meeting all the obligations that they’re told they have to… and ‘I know this isn't the response you want, but that's how it is’.”
The council instead suggested that his daughter should get the public bus or walk to school, if a lift was not available, however Daniel does not think this is acceptable.
He explained: “If I let my step-daughter catch the number 12 service, it's cheaper than what the season bus ticket is, but I'd rather her be with a bunch of her peers, it's just safer. Once you've been catching the bus for a few years, it's different, but they’re year seven, they have no idea what's in store, you grow up a lot over the next two years.
“Some of them have never caught a bus on their own. We live in a small village, it’s quite a close knit community and it's very safe, so the children live quite sheltered lives. We've got time to get Paige used to getting the bus, but it's like there's no common sense... a year seven needs a space on the bus more than a year 11.
"And if eight girls out of 11 at New Longton haven't got a place on the bus, how many at say Longton Primary haven’t and so on, does eight become 30? Would it be quite reasonable to say, look, you need another bus on that route.”
Daniel’s fiancee Georgia currently walks the children to New Longton Primary School to “reduce [their] carbon footprint on the environment”, however this would be impossible to Penwortham Girls, as it as an hours walk.
Daniel added: “Today, where we are constantly being bombarded with our responsibility to help do our part for the environment, recycle where possible, install solar panels, reduce plastic and oil consumption why is it we are basically being told to increase road usage and decrease safety near children’s schools by Lancashire County Council?”
A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said: "Lancashire County Council provides school services for students who are entitled to transport assistance, as set out in our Home to Mainstream School Transport Policy.
"An assessment is undertaken for all the pupils when they transfer to high school and the preferences expressed by the parent on the secondary school application to determine eligibility. There are additional provisions for pupils whose families meet the low-income criteria.
"Although the county council is not obliged to make any transport provision for those students who are not statutorily entitled to free home to school transport, where a Lancashire County Council service does exist, they may purchase a season ticket to access the service, providing there is room. Season tickets are issued on a 'first-come, first served' basis and there is no bias applied to the age of the applicant or whether a sibling is already travelling on the service.
"The 680 service to Penwortham Girls' High School currently satisfies the county council's statutory obligations to those pupils with an entitlement to home-to-school transport. There are no plans to provide a larger vehicle or put on an extra bus for non-statutory pupils.
"Pupils who are not entitled to free home to school transport have the option of using the Preston Bus no.12 service between Longton - Preston via New Longton and Penwortham."