“The whole community will suffer” if a bus service between Llanfyllin and Oswestry stops running, local councillors fear.
Tanat Valley confirmed this week that the 9am number 72 bus from Llanfyllin and the afternoon return service, are to be cut in July 2018.
It currently brings pupils into Llanfyllin High School each morning before switching to being a public service bus for the return journey. In the afternoon, the public bus brings people back to Llanfyllin in time for the end of the school day, when it transforms back into a school bus.
Because of the agreement with the high school, Tanat Valley is able to meet the cost of providing the bus – but the school will withdraw from the contract at the end of the current academic year.
This comes as a result of Powys County Council’s ‘Regulation 5.2’, which prevents schools from using delegated funding to pay for home to school transport.
A PCC spokesman said: “This stops schools poaching pupils from another catchment area.”
Llanfyllin High School was told in 2016 that it had two years to comply with the regulation, which means the parents must meet the full cost of the bus or lose it.
At Llanfyllin Town Council’s November meeting, County Councillor Peter Lewis said: “I found out the High School pays for this bus to bring the pupils in and charges for it to subsidise what the parents have to pay.
“This bus doesn’t get any money from Powys. The school procures it to bring pupils in and it helps to subsidise it by Tanat Valley using it as a public service bus.
“The school is not allowed to do it any more because of Regulation 5.2.”
Cllr Lewis said it was now up to PCC to step in and subsidise the service, as it does with other routes.
“I’m going to put some pressure on Powys because they fund other buses.
“The whole community will suffer.”
Cllr Jane Carrington said: “People who live in Llanfyllin who don’t drive rely on that bus.”
The alternative morning services to Oswestry leave Llanfyllin at 6.55am and 10.30am.
Cllr Lewis added: “Some people who go on these buses are going to work in Oswestry. If people can’t get the transport they will move.”
Nick Culliford, operations manager at Tanat Valley, told the County Times the bus would not be viable without the school contract.
He said: “That service, unlike most others in Powys, is not subsidised. It just about covers its costs by linking in with the school bus. If you take the school bus away, we have got no vehicle sitting in Llanfyllin that could do that service.
“If the school bus disappears, the service will be a problem.
“The brothers who run Tanat Valley do have a commitment to the locality so we take the hit, but there is a limit as to how much of a hit we can take.
“I’m hoping things will work out with the school and we can continue, it’s all down to the county council.”
A PCC spokesman said the service was only made available by Tanat due to the agreement with the school and was not a route the council had ever subsidised.
“It’s a consequence of Llanfyllin High School starting to comply with Regulation 5.2.
“There are buses that are desirable but not commercially viable which the council subsidises, but this was never one of those routes.”
See full story in the County Times