Phil Wilson MP has been supporting a group of concerned parents from Fishburn to fight for free school transport for their children.
More than 400 residents of Fishburn, County Durham, signed a petition calling on Sedgefield Community College to rethink its decision to charge pupils £1.50 a day for the 2.5-mile school journey from January.
Yesterday evening, Phil presented the petition to the House of Commons. This coincided with a school meeting which saw governors agree to reduce the charge to £1 for pupils in the catchment area from September. However, many parents believe the bus should remain free, with some claiming they cannot cope with the additional financial burden.
Councillor Rachel Lumsdon, who started the petition, said: “I am very concerned about the change to the school’s policy, which will have a big impact on some families. I know that many people feel let down by the timing and charges of the new policy.”
Sedgefield Community College has covered the cost of some school buses since 2012, when Durham County Council reduced the distance a child must live from a school to be eligible for free transport from three miles to two.
The move brought the council in line with national policy and followed a reduction in Government funding.
David Davies, headteacher of Sedgefield Community College, said: “Sometimes governors have to make unpopular decisions due to budget pressures.
“We looked at what we are being charged for transport and it is a considerable sum. Following lengthy discussions, we decided a concessionary charge was the fairest option, with parents covering some not all of the cost.
“The governing body has since listened and responded to the concerns of some Fishburn residents by reducing the cost to £1 per day for pupils for whom Sedgefield is the nearest school.”