Upper Swaledale parents set to lose free school bus — or send children to study in Cumbria

The change would affect children living in Keld, in Swaledale. Photo: Carl Bendelow.

Parents in upper Swaledale have reacted with anger at a proposed policy change which would mean their children studying in Cumbria to qualify for free school transport.

North Yorkshire Council is planning to limit free school transport to a child’s nearest school.

This would mean children in some parts of the Dales only getting free transport to secondary schools in Cumbria.

A group of parents in upper Swaledale have written to Richmond MP Rishi Sunak expressing their anger at the proposal, as their nearest secondary school would be Kirkby Stephen, which would involve a journey over the tops to get there.

In a letter asking for support from Mr Sunak, the parents said: “This for us is not an option.

“The road is not suitable for a bus or taxi to be carrying school children, especially in winter.

“This road does not get gritted, it sits as a height of 1,740ft and is completely exposed to all elements of weather.

“Previously when we have been asking for this road to be gritted, Westmorland Council have deemed it not safe for a gritter to be travelling on in bad weather, but you’re willing to put our children on this road?”

The parents added: “If we are right in thinking if this policy goes ahead, but we chose not to send to Kirkby Stephen purely on safety issues for our own children, we then have to pay and organise our own transport to the school of your own choice whether it be Leyburn or Richmond.

“We possibly could get transport through NYC if they have space on the bus but there is no guarantee. This will have to be at an extra cost given it is not the closest school for us to travel to.”

A spokesman for Rishi Sunak’s constituency office said the MP would be raising the issue with the council after being contacted by a number of parents.

North Yorkshire Council has launched a consultation on the proposed changes to school transport.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, said: “Our council, like many others, finds itself in a challenging financial climate.

“We are in a stronger position than most, but we must strike the right balance to fulfil the competing needs of our statutory services while ensuring other services are sustainable.

“The council spends approximately £1m per school week on home to school transport. Any pupil currently receiving home to school transport under the eligibility criteria of the current policy will continue to do so. The consultation will take on board the views of parents, carers, pupils, schools and partners about proposed changes over a seven-year period. We would like to receive as many views as possible.

“It is important know what you think of these proposals. Please use this opportunity to have your say by submitting your feedback during the consultation period. Thank you.”

The consultation, which runs until April 12, includes a survey.

Parents and carers interested in giving their feedback to the consultation on home to school travel are encouraged to complete the survey at https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/survey/h2sc




  1. The powers that be will never be happy until they have driven out all the young people in upper Swaledale and only have holiday homes up there.

    Then there will be no one left to work in the Muker pup and holiday homes, but I suppose they could make it self service.

    • The ‘powers that be’ are in office only because they’ve been voted in and they can be voted out.

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