FREE school buses for Knutsford Academy pupils living in Mobberley will be scrapped this September.

Members of Cheshire East Council’s cabinet voted to approve a designated walking route alongside the B5085 to the school, in Bexton Road, at a meeting on Tuesday.

The decision means that pupils living within three miles of the school must either pay bus fare, travel by car, or face walking or cycling up to six miles a day – while parents accompanying their child to school would walk double that distance.

Before councillors voted on the scheme, Mobberley resident Brendan O’Brien urged them to reconsider the proposal.

He said: “Do you believe it is reasonable that parents should walk 11.9 miles every day to school and wave to other children who live over three miles away, that are on the same bus they would have caught?

“If you do believe it, will you join for a walk of 11.9 miles? I will meet you at 8am and I’ll meet you at 2pm, and we can go for a walk for just under six miles.”

Mr O’Brien added that he was concerned the decision had ‘already been made’, and suggested the council had not properly consulted with Knutsford Academy over the scheme.

Under legislation CEC is obliged to provide free school transport to children who live at least three miles away from their nearest school.

Councils are also obliged to provide free transport to children who live less than three miles away from their nearest school, but where walking is deemed to be unsafe.

The new walking route means that from September, 37 current pupils will no longer enjoy a free bus ride to Knutsford Academy from Mobberley – although their parents are eligible to receive a £192 subsidy.

Responding to Mr O’Brien’s comments, Cllr Jos Saunders, cabinet member for children and families, said: “We do have to treat all of our children equally, and this policy of not providing free school transport to those pupils who live under three miles away from their nearest school has been in place for decades.

“In terms of access to school, all of our parents – whether they live one mile, two miles or just under three miles away – have a responsibility to get their child safely to school.

“And they wake up with that responsibility every morning, and make that choice every morning, as to how their child will access the school.

“That could be walking with parents, it could be walking with friends, it could be a car share, or it could be that they catch that bus – the difference being that it will no longer be free.”

CEC estimates that the policy will deliver savings of £22,000 a year.

Knutsford Academy expressed its concerns about the policy when it was announced last September, stating the ‘safety and welfare of our students is of paramount importance to us’.