Bus withdrawals affecting Westerham school children and surrounding villages have yet to be resolved. The TW4 service from Westerham to Tunbridge Wells has been withdrawn. KCC’s ‘alternative’ is for all those children to join the 402W to Tonbridge and change at Sevenoaks bus station. There isn’t the capacity on the 402W to take all these extra children, it is full from Brasted. Children will be left behind. If they do manage to get to Sevenoaks Bus Station, they would need to scramble to gain a place on a connecting bus already full with other children from withdrawn services across NW Kent.
This is part of a wider public transport issue that isolated villages, cuts people off, increases pollution and will affect any business or housing development in the area. The school buses also take people to work as they are a commercial operation.
The effect of these withdrawals is widespread. Westerham and the surrounding villages have no alternative of public transport. Expecting the 65 TW4 bus children to join the 402W Tonbridge Bus and change at Sevenoaks is not viable due to capacity and safeguarding issues at the small bus station. Those that can will be forced to drive their children either to the nearest bus stop offering a direct service or driving them all the way to school. Those who can’t will be forcing their children onto over crowded buses or left behind completely.
Keep Westerham Green understnds that the bus withdrawal transport cuts are being put in front of the KCC Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 18th August at Maidstone. It appears that KCC Cllr Cabinet member for Transport David Brazier did not share important information that many commercial school routes had given notice to KCC about their withdrawal in June due to no longer being viable despite being nearly full. A vote was taken in July for the cuts without knowledge of these commercial withdrawals. It seems that KCC did nothing to find alternatives and parents found out only in the last week of term. One Westerham parent informed her son’s school only to find that they had no knowledge of the proposed bus withdrawal.
This comes after KCC transport were brought in front of the KCC Scrutiny Committee back in March due to Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) children being stranded without transport to school. KCC@s Lead Councillor Roger Gough said lessons had been learnt when speaking on Radio Kent, but it appears this is not the case.
Laura Trott MP supports the campaign to maintain a direct bus service from Westerham to Tunbridge Wells totally avoiding the congestion and pollution of Sevenoaks.