A Rothbury father has been left frustrated at the lack of pragmatism shown by the council, which means his sons will now miss out on an after-school activity.
Plus, as Nick Redmayne is the one who pays to hire the village hall in Cambo for the fencing classes, it is likely that other youngsters will now miss out as he is not prepared to pay if his sons aren’t able to attend.
Until recently, to attend the Thursday evening sessions, his sons Hugh and Will, aged 15, used to get the school bus to Cambo that night, rather than their usual Morpeth to Rothbury bus.
Their travelling on the Cambo bus, which has spaces, was never questioned and Mr Redmayne’s older daughter also used to do the same thing.
But earlier this month, the boys weren’t allowed on and subsequent discussions with the council have led nowhere.
Mr Redmayne said: “Where there was no problem, there is one. Where there was a resource, there now probably won’t be because I’m not going to pay for the hall if my kids can’t get there.”
Mr Redmayne accepts that there needs to be rules for children’s safety, but also says that there is a drive to encourage young people to be active, something made even more difficult in rural areas given transport restrictions.
He also points out that while passes may be checked on school buses to ensure only those meant to be on that route are travelling, there is no way of checking who should be on the bus, but isn’t.
A county-council spokesman said: “The safety and welfare of all children using our school transport is our absolute priority. It is also important to recognise this service is provided for transport from home to school, rather than any other activities.
“It is vital students only travel on the routes which their pass entitles them to so the council knows who is on each bus. In this instance, the pass entitles the students to travel between Rothbury and Morpeth and not other parts of the county.
“As there is capacity on the other route, we have made an offer of providing a concessionary seat on that bus for each child at a cost of £60 per term per child, as this is not a home-to-school journey.”