Free bus pass rules are branded ‘unfair’

Herald Series: Pauline Preece, front left, with parents and their children who are angry about changes to free bus passes which have been issued to some students at Wallingford School but not to others Pauline Preece, front left, with parents and their children who are angry about changes to free bus passes which have been issued to some students at Wallingford School but not to others

JUST 150 metres separate two families from the right to free travel to school for their children.

Until this summer, the Preeces and the McBains were told they were both entitled to free bus passes to Wallingford School.

Nicola McBain, of 27 Sunnyside in Benson, has received a letter from education bosses confirming her son Aston is still eligible for free school transport.

But just down the road at 11 Sunnyside, Pauline Preece and her two sons have been told they will no longer be eligible for free bus travel after March, despite having had it for more than three years. Now if they want to go to school they will have to pay £240 a year.

The problem has emerged after changes in national guidelines.

Oxford County Council has had to re-examine the criteria upon which it decides which families qualify and which don’t.

Reassessed school routes include those between Benson and Wallingford, Cholsey and Wallingford, and Drayton and Abingdon.

Free travel will now only be provided where the home-to-school distance is more than three miles, or there is no safe walking route if under three miles.

That means families within the three miles who used to qualify for passes, who use a route now deemed “safe”, will no longer qualify.

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But their neighbours who are just outside the three-mile zone, are still entitled to them.

Pupils from Benson are now expected to cross the busy A4074, where the speed limit has been cut from 50mph to 40mph, while pupils from Cholsey would have to walk along Wallingford Road.

Both families have condemned the situation as “unfair”, as both catch the same bus.

Ms Preece, 37, who works with adults with learning difficulties, has two sons who go to Wallingford School, Nathan, 14, and Sam, 15.

The boys have had paid-for travel since they started at Wallingford School.

Ms Preece said: “I find it hard to understand that two families in the same street are being treated in a different way.

“I don’t think it’s safe for children from the village to cross the A4074 and I will be appealing.”

Sam added: “I don’t want to walk to school, it’s too dangerous and too far.”

Mrs McBain, 36, a care assistant, said: “I think it’s unfair that Aston has got a pass when Pauline’s sons have not. Surely people in the same street should be treated the same.”

County council spokesman Owen Morton said: “Distance is the issue, with one family just inside the three-mile distance and one just outside. “The distances are all calculated using digitised mapping from the Ordnance Survey. “The Road Safety Association reissued guidelines earlier this year. “The walking routes from Cholsey and Benson to Wallingford School were recently reviewed, according to national guidelines and judged to be safe and appropriate.

“This means that a number of children who received free travel last year, despite living within three miles of the school, are no longer eligible for a free bus pass.

“It is quite possible for two children living close by or even in the same street to fall either side of the three-mile threshold, and in a small number of cases this has indeed proved to be the case.

“While that will undoubtedly be frustrating for some families, this is the way the regulations are applied nationally, and Oxfordshire is no different in this respect.”

Comments (17)

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10:08am Tue 4 Sep 12

father dowling says...

WOW a real headline grabber - NOT
WOW a real headline grabber - NOT father dowling
  • Score: -7

10:40am Tue 4 Sep 12

cosmic says...

I'm sure you would feel differently if you had children who had to walk to school along a very busy A4074. Few people walk along the A4074 and cccidents are low as no children have to walk to school. This will increase once these stupid rulings come into force in March next year. Who ever said the route was safe to cross hasn't used their professional judgement.

I hope OCC and the person who said the route was safe feel guilty when they hear of the first fatality once children walk this unsafe route.
I'm sure you would feel differently if you had children who had to walk to school along a very busy A4074. Few people walk along the A4074 and cccidents are low as no children have to walk to school. This will increase once these stupid rulings come into force in March next year. Who ever said the route was safe to cross hasn't used their professional judgement. I hope OCC and the person who said the route was safe feel guilty when they hear of the first fatality once children walk this unsafe route. cosmic
  • Score: 1

12:19pm Tue 4 Sep 12

Dilligaf2010 says...

These children are teenagers, what's the problem, it'll do them some good.
Children have been walking along busy roads to get to schools for many years, and will continue to, accept it.
I wonder if the parents complained so much at the cost of the picket fence & pagoda they got for their garden.
These children are teenagers, what's the problem, it'll do them some good. Children have been walking along busy roads to get to schools for many years, and will continue to, accept it. I wonder if the parents complained so much at the cost of the picket fence & pagoda they got for their garden. Dilligaf2010
  • Score: 1

12:40pm Tue 4 Sep 12

lalabean says...

whether someone can afford a pagoda for their garden or not is not the issue in which this article is based. do u have children? probably not, or else if u did and your child was in the same situation i'm sure you would be first in line to complain about the dumb decision the OCC has made, or do u not really care whether your child gets killed on their way to school. this decision is only going to make further problems for the school as i'm sure truancy will increase and therefore the parents will then get fined when the kids don't turn up for school, and why? because the OCC think its the right decision. and lets just hope that when the afternoons start getting darker and the kids have to walk through the fields, the pedophiles that we hope are not around us don't pounce!
whether someone can afford a pagoda for their garden or not is not the issue in which this article is based. do u have children? probably not, or else if u did and your child was in the same situation i'm sure you would be first in line to complain about the dumb decision the OCC has made, or do u not really care whether your child gets killed on their way to school. this decision is only going to make further problems for the school as i'm sure truancy will increase and therefore the parents will then get fined when the kids don't turn up for school, and why? because the OCC think its the right decision. and lets just hope that when the afternoons start getting darker and the kids have to walk through the fields, the pedophiles that we hope are not around us don't pounce! lalabean
  • Score: -3

12:58pm Tue 4 Sep 12

bobsmith61 says...

Wow lalabean, talk about over reaction, the removal of a free bus is going to lead to an increase in deaths, truancy and an increase in pedophiles.

Let's not forget OCC hasn't said the children have to walk to school, they have removed a free bus service, if it is such a risk surely as a parent £240 is not a lot to pay for peace of mind.
Wow lalabean, talk about over reaction, the removal of a free bus is going to lead to an increase in deaths, truancy and an increase in pedophiles. Let's not forget OCC hasn't said the children have to walk to school, they have removed a free bus service, if it is such a risk surely as a parent £240 is not a lot to pay for peace of mind. bobsmith61
  • Score: 6

4:55pm Tue 4 Sep 12

Bartsimpson_uk says...

You have to draw a line somewhere, and if the parents are that worried then pay the fare themselves.It only works out at £4.00 a week! I know others who travel by bus and do pay for it themselves, so whats the problem???
Also the her kids are 14 & 15, are they not allowed out on their own at weekends as they may have to cross a road!!
You have to draw a line somewhere, and if the parents are that worried then pay the fare themselves.It only works out at £4.00 a week! I know others who travel by bus and do pay for it themselves, so whats the problem??? Also the her kids are 14 & 15, are they not allowed out on their own at weekends as they may have to cross a road!! Bartsimpson_uk
  • Score: -14

5:33pm Tue 4 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

No point worrying about it.

Withold them from school for a week and social services will arrange transport.

The judge will be understanding.
No point worrying about it. Withold them from school for a week and social services will arrange transport. The judge will be understanding. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

6:35pm Tue 4 Sep 12

A34North says...

The wonders of being a parent and the ability to want other people to pay for your children never fails to amuse me.
Nice banner, shame about the embarrassed look on the youths faces. Never mind lads the ribbing wont last long.
The wonders of being a parent and the ability to want other people to pay for your children never fails to amuse me. Nice banner, shame about the embarrassed look on the youths faces. Never mind lads the ribbing wont last long. A34North
  • Score: 5

8:09pm Tue 4 Sep 12

cosmic says...

What has a picket fence got to do with this issue. Yes, the ladies children are teenagers, so what. What all of you fail to see is that this effects others in the village from the age of 11, who have only just left primary school. Childrens judgements are still developing and can't judge the speed of an oncoming vehicle. It's not just about the cost of travel, but the safety aspect of this. Sadly reporter seemed to air on the cost issue. Sadly there are cuts, but no amount of money should ever stand in the way of someones life. Regardless of age.

The costs of travel are actually more than what has been reported and can end up being doubled, trippled if you have more than one child who is effected. People on Low income / benefits children are entitled free travel if they live less than 3 miles....shouldn't they also be ones especially if they've never done a days work be the ones who get off their backsides and contribute to society? This lady works and contributes to society as well as pays her taxes. Seems genuine working class families as always feel the impact. Those on high income can afford the travel without a dent in their bank balance and people on low income don't have to worry either.

The Village will be divided because of OCC's decision claiming the route is safe and a stand needs to be made for the future of other children who will face what this family and others are facing. I have to also agree with Lalabean...

I'm sure all of you who have been negative about this issue would be the first to moan if you had a young child who was tragically killed crossing the A4074 / raped or attacked walking through the routes proposed as safe by OCC.
What has a picket fence got to do with this issue. Yes, the ladies children are teenagers, so what. What all of you fail to see is that this effects others in the village from the age of 11, who have only just left primary school. Childrens judgements are still developing and can't judge the speed of an oncoming vehicle. It's not just about the cost of travel, but the safety aspect of this. Sadly reporter seemed to air on the cost issue. Sadly there are cuts, but no amount of money should ever stand in the way of someones life. Regardless of age. The costs of travel are actually more than what has been reported and can end up being doubled, trippled if you have more than one child who is effected. People on Low income / benefits children are entitled free travel if they live less than 3 miles....shouldn't they also be ones especially if they've never done a days work be the ones who get off their backsides and contribute to society? This lady works and contributes to society as well as pays her taxes. Seems genuine working class families as always feel the impact. Those on high income can afford the travel without a dent in their bank balance and people on low income don't have to worry either. The Village will be divided because of OCC's decision claiming the route is safe and a stand needs to be made for the future of other children who will face what this family and others are facing. I have to also agree with Lalabean... I'm sure all of you who have been negative about this issue would be the first to moan if you had a young child who was tragically killed crossing the A4074 / raped or attacked walking through the routes proposed as safe by OCC. cosmic
  • Score: 2

8:18pm Tue 4 Sep 12

cosmic says...

You fail to also notice that this lady hasn't mentioned nor has the reporter mentioned that the lady can't afford the bus travel. She has concerns for her childrens and other childrens safety - If you are a parent should know your child's safety always comes first
You fail to also notice that this lady hasn't mentioned nor has the reporter mentioned that the lady can't afford the bus travel. She has concerns for her childrens and other childrens safety - If you are a parent should know your child's safety always comes first cosmic
  • Score: 7

8:43pm Tue 4 Sep 12

cosmic says...

So you seem to think that just because someone has a picket fence that they fritter their money away...what a complete load of nonsense, you don't know the family and come across as judging a book by it's cover.
So you seem to think that just because someone has a picket fence that they fritter their money away...what a complete load of nonsense, you don't know the family and come across as judging a book by it's cover. cosmic
  • Score: 6

8:44pm Tue 4 Sep 12

cosmic says...

cosmic wrote:
So you seem to think that just because someone has a picket fence that they fritter their money away...what a complete load of nonsense, you don't know the family and come across as judging a book by it's cover.
For Summertown Star 12 A*
[quote][p][bold]cosmic[/bold] wrote: So you seem to think that just because someone has a picket fence that they fritter their money away...what a complete load of nonsense, you don't know the family and come across as judging a book by it's cover.[/p][/quote]For Summertown Star 12 A* cosmic
  • Score: 4

9:22pm Tue 4 Sep 12

cosmic says...

Summertown Star 12 A* wrote:
cosmic wrote:
You fail to also notice that this lady hasn't mentioned nor has the reporter mentioned that the lady can't afford the bus travel. She has concerns for her childrens and other childrens safety - If you are a parent should know your child's safety always comes first
You did not answer my question, it has nothing to do with safety, picket fences, or anything else than 66p a day. Her CHILD BENEFIT paid for out of my taxes will more than cover it. And sorry but I have to say it, is she using her child benefit to cover her own costs and not what it was meant for. Again COSMIC 66p a day. Do you think that is to much to ppay to protect your child from drivers that want to run them over for fun, getting wet on the walk to school, and horrors above horrors all of those pedo's that are suddenly going to appear. 66p. Is that too much, that is the question that you seem unable to answer.
It has everything to do with Safety and Distance, I cannot answer the question of how she uses her Child Benefit. The lady has just as much right to bus travel as do others in the village who are claiming benefits as they can't get off their backside and work. We should be moaning about them that our taxes are paying for their free costly upkeep.

No 66p isn't a lot per day and not too much to pay and I'm sure if when she appeals and if this were lost would pay for their buses as she has not mentioned about the cost being to expensive. She is stating safety concerns as well as there being 150 metres of a mile difference.
[quote][p][bold]Summertown Star 12 A*[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]cosmic[/bold] wrote: You fail to also notice that this lady hasn't mentioned nor has the reporter mentioned that the lady can't afford the bus travel. She has concerns for her childrens and other childrens safety - If you are a parent should know your child's safety always comes first[/p][/quote]You did not answer my question, it has nothing to do with safety, picket fences, or anything else than 66p a day. Her CHILD BENEFIT paid for out of my taxes will more than cover it. And sorry but I have to say it, is she using her child benefit to cover her own costs and not what it was meant for. Again COSMIC 66p a day. Do you think that is to much to ppay to protect your child from drivers that want to run them over for fun, getting wet on the walk to school, and horrors above horrors all of those pedo's that are suddenly going to appear. 66p. Is that too much, that is the question that you seem unable to answer.[/p][/quote]It has everything to do with Safety and Distance, I cannot answer the question of how she uses her Child Benefit. The lady has just as much right to bus travel as do others in the village who are claiming benefits as they can't get off their backside and work. We should be moaning about them that our taxes are paying for their free costly upkeep. No 66p isn't a lot per day and not too much to pay and I'm sure if when she appeals and if this were lost would pay for their buses as she has not mentioned about the cost being to expensive. She is stating safety concerns as well as there being 150 metres of a mile difference. cosmic
  • Score: 6

7:25am Wed 5 Sep 12

Lord Palmerstone says...

Children cost a lot. If you don't want to/can't pay,don't have children.
Children cost a lot. If you don't want to/can't pay,don't have children. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 2

8:29am Wed 5 Sep 12

King Joke says...

Cosmic, where do you suggest they draw the line? At 3 miles 150 metres? Cue next week's stories about people living 3 miles 200 metres away putting their children at risk of paedophile attack.
Cosmic, where do you suggest they draw the line? At 3 miles 150 metres? Cue next week's stories about people living 3 miles 200 metres away putting their children at risk of paedophile attack. King Joke
  • Score: 4

12:26pm Thu 6 Sep 12

cosmic says...

Summertown Star 12 A* wrote:
King Joke wrote:
Cosmic, where do you suggest they draw the line? At 3 miles 150 metres? Cue next week's stories about people living 3 miles 200 metres away putting their children at risk of paedophile attack.
Spot on King Joke, my son will be 18 on Monday 17th, and unfortunately a mad Reading fan. He wants to come to the pub with me on Sunday 16th to watch them play Spurs, but they don't let in under 18's and are very strict on their ID. I wonder if the OM would run a story on how unfair it is that he will miss the excitement of seeing his beloved Reading with a few beers in the pub, when others just a few hours older than him are allowed to. It is so unfair.
Then you should go to a pub where all of you can enjoy watching the game or stay at home and have a party to celebrate your son’s excitement of watching the game so he can have a drink with parents’ consent. Drinking is something that someone choses to do, if they choose to drink excessively they put their lives or someone else’s at Risk. You son could choose to have a drink, then drive a car home and kill someone through drink driving. Think yourself lucky that the legal age of drinking is 18 here! Some parts of the USA are 21.

With regards to drawing a line, lines are drawn in all aspects of life; i.e. a child was born on 1st Sept, but in terms of schooling they will have to be in a different year to their friends some people could say this isn’t fair, This Does Not Put A Life At Risk. Neither does your example that your son can’t get into the pub as he’s too young.

This family haven’t chosen to have their bus passes taken away from them; this is as a result of OCC having now decided there is a safe route, without assessing the whole route, only part of the A4074 where that stretch is 50MPH limit and 2 people have been killed.

Even families who live next door to each other, one being classed at 2.99 miles will be affected. When it comes to safety; putting a child’s life at risk should never be allowed. A line shouldn’t be drawn especially in Benson Village where the busy A4074 exists with no safe crossing along with other parts of the route not being safe.

some of the Drinking laws

It is illegal to give anyone under 5 an alcoholic drink anywhere
Persons age 5 or more can drink in a registered club, public place (unless prohibited by by-law) or at home
Under the age of 14 children are not permitted into the bar area of a pub unless the pub has a children's certificate. In this case they can enter if they are accompanied by an adult.
At 14 you can enter a bar or pub but only if the landlord agrees and if you drink soft drinks (this can include low-alcohol beer).
At 16 you can buy beer, cider or perry (made from pears) in a restaurant or eating area of a pub where there is no bar, if you are ordering a main meal.
At 18 you can legally buy drinks in a pub, bar or off licence.
[quote][p][bold]Summertown Star 12 A*[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]King Joke[/bold] wrote: Cosmic, where do you suggest they draw the line? At 3 miles 150 metres? Cue next week's stories about people living 3 miles 200 metres away putting their children at risk of paedophile attack.[/p][/quote]Spot on King Joke, my son will be 18 on Monday 17th, and unfortunately a mad Reading fan. He wants to come to the pub with me on Sunday 16th to watch them play Spurs, but they don't let in under 18's and are very strict on their ID. I wonder if the OM would run a story on how unfair it is that he will miss the excitement of seeing his beloved Reading with a few beers in the pub, when others just a few hours older than him are allowed to. It is so unfair.[/p][/quote]Then you should go to a pub where all of you can enjoy watching the game or stay at home and have a party to celebrate your son’s excitement of watching the game so he can have a drink with parents’ consent. Drinking is something that someone choses to do, if they choose to drink excessively they put their lives or someone else’s at Risk. You son could choose to have a drink, then drive a car home and kill someone through drink driving. Think yourself lucky that the legal age of drinking is 18 here! Some parts of the USA are 21. With regards to drawing a line, lines are drawn in all aspects of life; i.e. a child was born on 1st Sept, but in terms of schooling they will have to be in a different year to their friends some people could say this isn’t fair, This Does Not Put A Life At Risk. Neither does your example that your son can’t get into the pub as he’s too young. This family haven’t chosen to have their bus passes taken away from them; this is as a result of OCC having now decided there is a safe route, without assessing the whole route, only part of the A4074 where that stretch is 50MPH limit and 2 people have been killed. Even families who live next door to each other, one being classed at 2.99 miles will be affected. When it comes to safety; putting a child’s life at risk should never be allowed. A line shouldn’t be drawn especially in Benson Village where the busy A4074 exists with no safe crossing along with other parts of the route not being safe. some of the Drinking laws It is illegal to give anyone under 5 an alcoholic drink anywhere Persons age 5 or more can drink in a registered club, public place (unless prohibited by by-law) or at home Under the age of 14 children are not permitted into the bar area of a pub unless the pub has a children's certificate. In this case they can enter if they are accompanied by an adult. At 14 you can enter a bar or pub but only if the landlord agrees and if you drink soft drinks (this can include low-alcohol beer). At 16 you can buy beer, cider or perry (made from pears) in a restaurant or eating area of a pub where there is no bar, if you are ordering a main meal. At 18 you can legally buy drinks in a pub, bar or off licence. cosmic
  • Score: -1

1:04pm Thu 6 Sep 12

King Joke says...

I'll repeat the question Cosmic, where should the line be drawn? 3.5 miles, 4.0 miles?

The children aren't having their bus withdrawn, some parents are being asked to pay for it. Rather than put their hands in their pockets they have chosen to use hugely emotive language, in order to save themselves a few bob.
I'll repeat the question Cosmic, where should the line be drawn? 3.5 miles, 4.0 miles? The children aren't having their bus withdrawn, some parents are being asked to pay for it. Rather than put their hands in their pockets they have chosen to use hugely emotive language, in order to save themselves a few bob. King Joke
  • Score: 2

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