PARENTS are worried their children will not get to school on time, saying a bus company has pulled out of travel arrangements.

The Colne School in Brightlingsea is the catchment school for Wivenhoe and historically transport was funded by Essex County Council.

This changed in September 2015 when the county council’s changed the eligibility criteria for transport.

Hedingham bus company agreed to offer termly bus passes on the 87c school bus and 87 public bus. However parents are worrying as Hedingham is looking to withdraw the 87 public bus.

A parent said: “The 62 bus runs a bit later than the 87 so would not be guaranteed to get the children to school on time.

“Hedingham said they would continue to run one 87c bus for 70 students only, and the cost has increased from around £150 per term to £200.”

Councillor Julie Young (Lab) has been in touch with Essex County Council to discuss the changes.

She said: “I am concerned to hear about the possibility of curtailing services and increasing costs for parents. I’m setting up urgent talks to see if we can make some changes.”

In a response to Julie Young’s email, Ray Gooding, Essex County Councillor responsible for Education, said the council only provides transport for children eligible to receive it.

He said: “The council has no statutory duty to provide or intervene in transport arrangements for children who are not entitled to transport.

“Accordingly, I confirm we will not be intervening in the situation.”

Jeremy Cooper, managing director for the bus company, said the changes were due to competition.

He said: “Since April 2017 we have faced competition from First on our route 87 to Brightlingsea.

“Despite the fact we are the only operator to provide an evening, early morning and Sunday operation a lot of people are now choosing to use First and our route is running at a loss.

“We are therefore considering withdrawing it.

“We have for some years accommodated a lot of children on our double-deckers. Now Essex County Council is no longer paying for school travel we are needing to own extra buses just to move them.

“Unfortunately, we can’t do that and also continue to offer the discounted fares we charged in 2017-18. We will provide enough seats to ensure everyone who buys a termly ticket with us on the 87C has a seat – the fare is based on a charge of £1.50 per journey.”