A COACH company has asked parents to continue paying for school runs even while they are not using the service.

Family-run Rebound has been accused of 'holding parents to ransom' during the coronavirus closures, if they want to keep their child’s space.

However, the couple who run the Bampton-based company say it is necessary to ensure the survival of their business through unprecedented times.

Read also: Man shot in attempted murder in Oxford

Rebound runs coaches taking children to Burford School in West Oxfordshire, and informed parents via email that they would still be required to pay a reduced rate.

Direct debit payments for April will remain the same as usual, but from May until further notice, parents will pay £37.50 or £33.75 per month - reduced by 25 per cent from the current rate of £50 or £45, depending on where they live.

However, children of key workers, who are still using the buses during the closures, will still have to pay the full rate.

Parents can choose to cancel their payments, but their child's seat will then be filled by a pupil from the waiting list.

The email sent to customers said: "We appreciate that this is a difficult time all round but we still have to run, maintain, insure and keep our vehicles in a road worthy condition and pay the drivers ready for the return to normal service, and we cannot do this without your support."

Read also: Volunteers wanted to be injected with coronavirus for vaccine

One parent told the Oxford Mail: "The letter holds parents to ransom for a service they can’t use, threatening removal of places if payment is not received.

"Money is tight all around for everyone."

Posting on the Spotted Witney Official page on Facebook, another anonymous parent added: "To pay that sort of money every month for a service they will not be using for a foreseeable future is ridiculous."

However, many of the 100 comments on the post spoke positively of Rebound and in support of the continued payments.

Hannah Giddins commented: "If we don’t support the bus company through this difficult time then we may not have a service to go back to when our children go back to school!"

Read also: Stunning opera singer, 22, serenades the NHS from her garden

Peter Whitehead, managing director of Rebound, said it was ‘upsetting’ to read some of the more negative comments.

He said ‘no other operator is even considering reductions or refunds’.

Mr Whitehead added: “People bad-mouthing us like this could put us out of business which will also mean we have to put six drivers with families out of work too.

“It’s a case of everyone supporting each other."

He also said he would be willing to negotiate with parents.