CAMPAIGNERS in West Oxfordshire say they have have gained a partial victory after an appeal overturned plans to end a free school bus service.

On Monday parents from St Bartholomew’s School in Eynsham appealed against the decision of Oxfordshire County Council to stop a school bus service from Cassington to the school in Witney Road.

Children would have had to walk along the A40 to school from September but now the free service will remain in place for another academic year.

The appeal panel said they had concerns about safety and have given Oxfordshire County Council a year to make improvements.

Worried parents, who formed an action group called Cassington Appeal, said the road was too dangerous for children to walk down.

However, they are not counting the appeal decision as a victory.

Lorna Mills, whose son Aaron goes to the school, said: “We just feel the first hurdle has gone in our favour and that common sense has prevailed. But, we aren’t counting it as a victory because we only have the service for another year.”

Lionel Bolton, of Cassington, whose son will be starting at St Bartholomew’s in September, said: “We are relieved that the children will be able to get to school safely.

“The county council has reinstated the bus for a year and it will review the situation during the next school year.”

Dan Bakewell, whose 10-year-old son Ben will also start at the school in September, was more positive about the result.

The 46-year-old said: “As far as I can see, if they can make the road safe, then great. And if they can’t then we get the bus – so it could be a win-win situation.”

The county council reclassified the road in April and said it was safe for children to walk along as there is a pavement.

The council then said the free school bus service would be cancelled from September, and a paid for service would run until December. After that the service would end and about 30 children would have been affected by the cuts.

Owen Morton, a spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The independent panel raised concerns over whether certain sections of the walking route were suitable for shared walking and cycle use, and agreed to ask the council to investigate potential mitigating work on these sections before reassessing the safety of the route within the year.

“As such they decided that families should continue to receive free school transport for the next school year.”

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