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Threatened Ferndown estate school bus saved thanks to parents' campaign
PARENTS living on one of East Dorset’s most deprived estates have won the battle to keep a threatened school bus.
The 844 school service, which serves the Heatherlands estate in Ferndown will be retained along with a number of other bus services following a public consultation. Detailed negotiations with bus companies enabled the council to find additional savings of around £120,000 which will be used to retain services in isolated rural areas.
Furious parents on the Heatherlands estate campaigned tirelessly to keep the 844 service, which linked the estate with Ferndown First and Middle schools.
Debbie Marlow, who has a child at Ferndown First School, said: “We are all so relieved to hear the service will be kept on. It would have been a nightmare for all the parents if it had been stopped.”
Route 302A, which runs on Saturday between Blandford and Salisbury, has been merged with several other services to provide one Tuesday and one Saturday service using a double decker bus.
Both decisions were made at the Cabinet meeting on December 4 following a detailed public consultation.
Cllr Hilary Cox, cabinet member for environment, said: “We have taken note of the 1,200 responses and listened to all the comments. This review is not something we have undertaken lightly, and we fully understand that some bus services offer a lifeline to residents without transport of their own.
“Unlike many councils, we are still putting a substantial amount of money – £2million – into supporting local bus services.”
Dorset County Council needs to save £850,000 from its £2.8million bus subsidy expenditure by April because councils no longer get government funding to support non-commercial bus routes.
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