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Castle Bytham parents call on Lincolnshire County Council to provide transport to Bourne Grammar School

A woman is calling on the council to tackle historic village transport issues.

Parents in Castle Bytham have expressed disappointment towards the lack of school bus provision to Bourne Grammar School and are fighting for change.

Leading the campaign on behalf of nine families is Emily Martin, who believes that the children are being ‘victimised’ by the current lack of local education authority (LEA) transport to the school.

John and Bella Pridgeon, and Emily and Alfie Martin at the Castle Bytham bus stop
John and Bella Pridgeon, and Emily and Alfie Martin at the Castle Bytham bus stop

Emily, whose son Alfie is in Year 7 at the grammar school, believes not having a school bus to the village is ‘absolutely ludicrous and laughable’.

She said: “Historically there’s been no provision to Bourne Grammar School from Castle Bytham.

“It’s been a number of years since the grammar school in Stamford became private, the next one is in Bourne but the buses have never caught up with that.”

In recent years parents have booked the CallConnect bus but due to there being more children than seats they have to fight for space by booking at exactly 7pm the night before.

There is currently a school bus travelling from Little Bytham, the next village along. However, if there was space and they chose to travel from there it would either mean children walking down a road that is ‘unsafe’, in Emily’s opinion, or nine unnecessary car journeys.

She said: “I’ve taken it to the council because enough’s enough, it’s such a historical issue so they need to sort it out and stop leaving it to us parents to bear the brunt.

“It’s really stressful, I’ve genuinely been in tears.

“Am I going to phone up everyday to try get the bus for my kid to get to school?

“I can’t commit to anything, like going into the office.”

Sharing lifts throughout the pandemic has also been difficult for the families due to covid and the previous bubbles which were in place.

“At the end of the day they are providing the education, we have done what we are told and applied to schools in the area then it’s part of their obligation. They’ve not looked at the impact on Castle Bytham.

“I don’t want to make it stressful for him, I can’t help the frustration, he just wants to go to and from school.”

Anita Ruffle, head of transport services at Lincolnshire County Council, said that while the pupils don’t meet the criteria for free home-to-school transport, an additional CallConnect vehicle will service the Bourne area at school times, which should offer sufficient capacity.

She added: “Places will be block-booked so parents will not have to keep ringing to book a seat, although they will need to let us know if their child no longer requires transport at any point.

“We have already contacted some of the parents to let them know the good news, which has been received very positively.”

However, Emily still believes they need to ‘resolve the anomaly’ and direct a school bus to the village as public transport isn’t

Emily said: “It’s great as I can now go to work and not have to drive my son to Bourne but they need to look at the historic anomaly. The impact is that parent’s won’t send children to local schools if there isn’t guaranteed transport and it’s not guaranteed it’s provided by a public bus.

“They can’t get there because they don’t meet the criteria of the technical bureaucratic map. The issue is sticking historically and not resolving the anomaly.”

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