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From Ilkley Gazette, March 13th, 2019
Written by Claire Lomax

ILKLEY'S MP has met with officials behind a decision to axe a vital school bus service. Letters were sent out to Ilkley parents last week by West Yorkshire Combined Authority informing them the P99 Mybus primary school service no longer meets the authority's value for money criteria and will be withdrawn on September 1. The bus serves Ben Rhydding Primary School, Sacred Heart RC School, Ashlands Primary School and All Saints CE Primary School, with 47 registered users. Parents were left shocked by last week's letters and angry they were given until just March 15 to comment on the proposals.

John Grogan MP secured a meeting with West Yorkshire Combined Authority on Friday last week and told the Gazette the authority has now agreed to extend the consultation period.

"They agreed to extend the consultation period regarding the future of the bus until April 12th to allow further time for comment and discussion. A final decision will then be taken in May. They told me that there were 47 registered users of the bus but the number of regular users had fallen to 22.

"I understand that some parents were not aware of the existence of the bus until last week’s publicity in the Ilkley Gazette so I am hopeful that these numbers may, as a result, go up. West Yorkshire Combined Authority also agreed to meet parents and representatives of the four schools involved and I shall be organising that meeting in the coming days. I am hopeful that a solution can be found and that the bus can be continued in the next academic year."

Since last week's article in the Gazette more parents have come forward to protest. Charlotte Rowlands, of Little Lane, Ilkley, said her two little boys Arlo and Rufus Bates, regularly use the service as it is a 35 minute walk to school from their house.

She said: "I am a single parent and if one of the boys falls ill I find it very difficult to make the journey to school with the other. In bad weather the boys always get the bus too, and as I claim Universal Credit I find myself unable to afford any other form of transport. The stopping of this service would undoubtedly negatively affect the education of my two children. It would make our lives much worse, and as a single parent it's the last position I want to find myself. I intend to oppose the stopping of this service, and ask you seriously reconsider this proposal."
Kyle Green, selected as the Conservative candidate for Ilkley in the upcoming local elections, is one of those who could be personally affected by the removal of the service. He said: “This decision is one that is totally unnecessary, badly thought through and will cause a range of knock-on problems, including more parking issues, higher pollution levels, and financial penalties for parents who depend upon this service. As a parent who has applied this year for a school place and who may require the service depending on which school my daughter is allocated a place at, it seems incredible that local parents and guardians had not been consulted about this change and that it has been proposed after parents have submitted their application for school places for this September.”

He added: "This latest news seems to be another case of Ilkley having a decision imposed upon it without proper thought given to the consequences."

A West Yorkshire Combined Authority spokesperson said: “The Combined Authority organises and subsidises a range of school bus services for around 25,000 pupils and students across West Yorkshire.
“In the context of reductions in local authority budgets, it is essential the Combined Authority ensures services continue to demonstrate value for money for local tax payers. 20 primary school services where passengers numbers have fallen are currently under review.

“Engagement is currently taking place with parents, the schools and other interested parties on a plan to withdraw these services at the end of the current school year. The engagement period ends on 12 April 2019, after which a final decision on the withdrawal of these services will be taken.”

Those who are affected by this service being cut can make their objections known by emailing:
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