under threat. Following moves to scrap free bus rides for children at Catholic schools in the Bristol area, revealed by the Herald last month, 40 children who attend a Wigan primary school are at the centre of a local storm over the decision by Bolton Council to leave pupils to walk along a three-mile stretch of busy road.
Parents of pupils at Our Lady's primary school in Aspull have set up a campaign to save the 23-year-old service, which looks likely not to resume at the start of the next academic year in August.
But the organisers of Friend's of Our Lady's Save Our School Bus Campaign hope to convince the local authority that the resulting 80,000 extra car journeys each year — necessary because of the dangerous route along which pupils would have to walk — "would not meet with national government transport policy".
Last month the Duke of Norfolk urged Catholic schools to mount a vigorous campaign against council cuts. The 1944 and 1993 Education Acts protect the provision of free transport to children who live long distances from denominational schools. The Duke suggested that schools should sue their local authority.
However, the pupils in question at Our Lady's do not qualify for this legal safeguard because the distance between the children's homes and the school is not officially great enough.