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BLAENAU GWENT: School bus issues

BLAENAU GWENT: School bus issues

Henleys Facebook Post

FEARS have been raised that problems with bus services – including a drivers strike – could have effect children’s school attendance in Blaenau Gwent this winter.

At a meeting of the Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council Education and Learning scrutiny committee on Tuesday, October 19, Cllr Derrick Bevan brought up the issue of bus strikes and a local bus firm announcing they will no longer be providing a “public service” in the county.

Cllr Bevan wanted to see school transport discussed at a future meeting of the committee as a matter of urgency as he feared a “decimation” of bus services.

Cllr Bevan said: “Currently Stagecoach buses are on strike, that will affect the attendance of children especially with the bad weather coming now and we don’t know when it’s going to be settled.

“And unfortunately, Henley’s buses have said that they are finishing at the end of December.

“So, I imagine there will be problems for children getting to school as well in Abertillery.”

“School transport needs to be looked at and through the decimation of bus services we’ll have problems with children getting to school this winter.

“A lot of the children in Tredegar have no bus to get to Ebbw Vale college today.

“A lot more are going to be in the same boat if this strike goes on for some time.”

Blaenau Gwent’s education, transformation and business change manager, Claire Gardner said “It affects two of our schools in particular one being Abertillery Learning Community (ALC).

Ms Gardner explained that the other school is Ysgol Dyffryn Gwynllyw in Pontypool where some Blaenau Gwent children are educated out of county.

Ms Gardner said: “We’ve managed to secure interim arrangements at ALC and from today (Wednesday, October 20) for Gwynllyw.

She explained that today (Tuesday, October 19) to the strike Gwynllyw pupils from Blaenau Gwent had been educated at home through “blended learning.”

Ms Gardner said: “It is a national issue because there were drivers who left for alternative and better paid jobs.

“There’s been an impact due to Covid-19 as well in terms of drivers and escorts needing to self-isolate.

“So far we have been able to manage it within our existing resources.”
Ms Gardner agreed that an in -depth report could be discussed at their next meeting.

This week problems between Stagecoach and Unite union over pay negotiations came to a head and services across a vast swathe of South Wales and into Herefordshire have been affected.

On Monday, Cwmtillery based Henley’s coaches announced on social media:
“It is with great sadness that from Dec 31, 2021, we will no longer be providing a public service to Cwmtillery, Blaenau Gwent or Brynithel.

“This has not been an easy decision to make but due to personal reason we feel this is the best way forward for us as a company.

“We will always be grateful for all the support we have received over the years and would like to say thank you to all our customers, and drivers.”

When asked if this decision would affect school bus routes, Henleys replied that those are “unaffected.”

Words: Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

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