Family’s anger over bus pass refusal

Wyatt, 11, with mum Michaela and dad Robin
Wyatt, 11, with mum Michaela and dad Robin

An angry mum has hit out at county transport officials who she claims have denied her 11-year-old son a free bus pass - for the sake of a disputed few hundred yards.

Michaela Brickles, of Rydal Avenue, Freckleton, fears for son Wyatt’s safety as well as facing a bus fare bill of some £800 a year after Lancashire County Council told the family they live 0.2 miles outside the qualifying distance of three miles - although their research showed they are 0.2 miles within it.

Wyatt, 11, currently a pupil at the village’s Strike Lane Primary, starts at Carr Hill High School, Kirkham in September - and Michaela was left shocked and angry after hearing from County Hall that he is not eligible for a free pass.

Besides pointing out that the families’ distance calculations, via Google Maps and other websites, show that their home is more 3.2 miles from the school, she feels county officials have failed to take into account the safety of Wyatt and other youngsters who might be in a similar position.

“I couldn’t believe it when we were told there was no free bus pass for Wyatt,” said Michaela.

“Work commitments make it very difficult for either myself or his dad to drop him at school on a regular basis and having to pay for bus fares would cost hundreds of pounds a year. What is he supposed to do - walk?

“Even if that was feasible, it would mean him having to cross the Kirkham bypass and there have been some bad accidents on there. It’s just not safe.

“When we have queried it, the pupil access team we have dealt with say they have to draw the line somewhere and that line is three miles for working families such as us.

“It is apparently two miles for families on benefits and we know of someone in Warton who is less than three miles from school who have received a free pass because part of the route is considered unsafe to walk, so there seem to be so many anomalies to the situation.

“It seems stupid that if we lived just a few doors down our own road, we could get a free pass - that has implications for lots of people in Freckleton. Carr Hill is the nearest secondary school to the village and we shouldn’t have to go through this to make sure our son gets there safely.”

County Coun Matthew Tomlinson, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for children, young people and schools said: “We carefully calculate distances for home to school travel, which looks at suitable routes for pupils to use.

“If people feel that the distance is incorrect, we are happy to review the calculation.

“We also have a student support committee which looks at any appeals.”