Edendork parents fear school bus service will end despite reprieve

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Parents whose children use a bus service from Edendork Primary School to the Creenagh and Coalisland areas, have asked the Education Authority (EA) why they were given little or no opportunity to consult about its possible withdrawal.

Despite initially being told the service - which is used by 64 pupils of the school - would cease to run at the end of October, parents have since been informed no change will be made prior to Christmas.

The EA said it had received additional information, which it will review, from Edendork PS.

The organisation also promised parents would be kept “fully informed” of any change to the service following that review.

Some 132 people have signed an online petition to keep the service, which parents describe as “critical” to the safety of their children.

Traffic congestion outside the school, which is situated close to a number of large engineering plants as well as the local church and community centre, has been a long standing issue for those leaving their children to and from Edendork PS.

The petition states: “This bus service is a critical service for parents who cannot take the time away from work to collect their children. Edendork sits on a busy main road and at home times the amount of cars calling at the school is overwhelming.

“Minor car accidents happen all the time. Withdrawing the bus service will increase the amount of cars significantly and increase the likelihood of a child being injured.”

One of the parents whose children would be affected if the service is withdrawn after Christmas claimed the initial decision by the EA had been taken “practically overnight”.

Darragh Cullen said parents were only told that the service was under threat in the second week of October and had been given “absolutely no chance” to make their views known about how the move would affect their children.

Mr Cullen also expressed his fears that, despite the bus service having been given a temporary reprieve until Christmas, the decision may still ultimately be taken to discontinue it.

“This bus service collects the children at 2.50pm, meaning they are away before the rest of the parents come in cars and, as such, alleviates a lot of the traffic congestion at home time”, he continued.

The EA said it is carrying out a review of the information provided by Edendork PS and will respond to concerns expressed by parents following completion of this review.