Just six months after axing the school bus through Redford, West Sussex County Council has set up a new minibus service.
The move is a victory for Juliet Creber and her 14-year-old daughter Amber, from Clay Pit Cottages at Redford, who was left stranded last summer after the county council announced there would no longer be a school bus through her village.
The new school minibus, which went into service at the start of Midhurst Rother College’s new term, starts by collecting schoolchildren from Milland before travelling to Redford and Woolbeding and on to Midhurst.
Mrs Creber welcomed the news a minibus was being reinstated.
“I am absolutely delighted,” she said. “It is such a positive outcome after all the trouble we had last summer.”
A spokesman for the county council said: “This was simply part of a network review following the beginning of the new school year now things have settled down.
“It is usual to look at where we can optimise loadings, fill up contract buses – all business as usual.
“In this particular case, the minibus has been re-deployed from elsewhere in the area and carries six children at the moment and can go through Redford.
“The actual review is more widespread and the use of the minibus is one small part.
“There will be a further review in time for September as numbers change.”
Last summer county council officers refused to accept that Amber lived more than a mile from the nearest bus service and therefore, despite the fact they had axed her school bus, they said they did not have a responsibility to ensure she got to school safely.
But Mrs Creber and Chichester district councillor Gordon McAra measured the distance three different ways, by car, on a map and using a specialist measuring wheel and claimed it was 1.1 miles to the nearest bus stop at Linch.
Her exasperated mother told the Observer she was concerned for her daughter’s safety: “There is no footpath on the lane, it’s narrow, has a 60mph speed limit and is pitch dark in the winter with no street lights.
“It’s far too dangerous for Amber to walk along the lane and I told the county council she is not going to do it.”
She told county council officers she would have to drive her daughter all the way to the school to ensure her safety.
Last term she clocked up an extra 100 miles a week, five miles in and out of Midhurst twice a day just taking and picking up Amber from school.
In the meantime county council officers said they would review their measurements and in November Mrs Creber felt she had won a partial victory when she was told she would after all receive some financial help for school travel.
It appeared that after re-measuring, West Sussex County Council discovered it was in fact 1.05 miles and Mrs Creber received a ‘parent mileage’ allowance of 4.2 miles a day.