WORRIED parents battling to save threatened school bus services have been urged to back a major campaign to shape the future of transport in the town.

Darlington Borough Council has launched a survey allowing people to have their say on transport services for school and college students across the town.

The move will provide the authority with guidance on future travel options.

Loading article content

It comes after the town’s school bus network faced potential upheaval earlier this year when the authority announced plans to slash £394,000 from its budget.

The decision meant school transport would be free to children living three miles from their nearest secondary school, rather than the previous two miles.

The plan drew the anger of parents, headteachers and councillors, who said communities which had traditionally sent their children to Hurworth - such as Middleton St George, Bishopton, Sadberge - and the Firthmoor and Skerne Park areas of Darlington, would be seriously affected.

However, they received a reprieve last month when Darlington Schools Forum, made up of representatives from schools across the borough, put forward funding to provide school transport for pupils living in affected areas who are joining secondary schools in 2013-14 onwards, at a cost of £70,000 a year.

It is not yet known whether funding can be found for children starting school in 2014-15 and beyond.

Councillor Cyndi Hughes, the authority’s cabinet member for Children and Young People, said it was important people put forward their views to help structure the council’s policy.

She said: “We need to do some joined-up thinking with schools, colleges, transport providers and families in Darlington to promote safer and more sustainable transport options now and for future generations.

“We need people’s input and views to help with this important work.

“Doing nothing as far as transport is concerned is not an option.

“The future of school transport has been a worrying concern for many families, but the council will continue to do all that we can to support this valuable work for a sustainable and long-term solution."

The transport survey is available at surveymonkey.com/s/FTBPQTQ or by calling Sue White on 01325-388626

Closing date for survey submissons is Friday, December 14.