Higher North Devon bus prices as First ends its services
OUTRAGED parents will have to pay double the price to send their children to school after changes to North Devon's bus services.
Bus company First stopped its services in the area last week, meaning many parents felt the effects of changed bus routes and higher prices.
One woman even considered not sending her children to school.
Joanne Bradshaw, who lives in Combe Martin, has moved both her daughters, Lois and Phoebe, to Braunton Academy, because she said they were bullied at their previous school in Ilfracombe.
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The girls had so far always enjoyed a straightforward journey to get to Braunton. But the First bus they used to get has been stopped, and they must now get one bus to Ilfracombe then another to Braunton.
Both journeys are provided by two different companies, meaning the girls have to pay for two tickets.
Joanne has calculated the price of sending both girls to school is now likely to cost her around £232 every four weeks, which she cannot afford.
On Monday she considered keeping the girls home from school but eventually found someone to give them a lift.
She said: "One of my daughters is taking her GCSEs. We cannot afford to move them. I don't know what to do."
Joanne has spoken to Devon District Council about the issue, and was told there was nothing the council could do as she was out of the school's catchment area.
Joanne said: "I am more fuming about the Education Department. The lady said, 'well you have chosen Braunton school so it is your fault'. I tried to explain why I put them in Braunton school and she put the phone down."
Hannah Wicks, from the county council, said: "We provide free school transport to children who attend their designated or nearest school and live more than two or three miles, depending on their age, away. Where parents exercise parental preference and send their child to a school which is not their local school, they are responsible for getting their child there."
There are at least 12 other children in Combe Martin who attend Braunton school and are likely to face difficulties.
David Sharratt, Braunton School and Community College head teacher, was not happy at the changes to bus services but said families living out of the school's catchment area did not have much choice but to pay the prices for the time being.
He said: "I am disappointed the bus company has put prices up so much.
"I have written to Nick Harvey so I have done all I can do. Let's wait and see."
He added that 25 per cent of the school's pupils come from out of the catchment area meaning subsidising their transport costs was not an option.
He said:"It is not part of our funding to do transport. You are talking about tens of thousands of pounds. It is regrettable but it is beyond our financial capability."