£858 - the cost of travelling to school by bus

Victoria Atkins answering questions from Banovallum pupils.
Victoria Atkins answering questions from Banovallum pupils.

Conservative hopeful Victoria Atkins has vowed to campaign for a better deal for children who rely on public transport to attend school.

Ms Atkins, who will fight the Louth and Horncastle seat for the Tories in May’s General Election, was speaking at a meeting with Year 10 pupils at Banovallum School.

In a question and answer session, a pupil revealed his parents were paying £22 a week - or £858 a year - on bus fares to and from the school.

He said it was a huge outlay for many families in rural areas, particularly as they often have more than one child at school.

The pupil also claimed children at other schools received free or subsidised transport.

Ms Atkins said she was aware of the problem and had already spoken to Lincolnshire County Council who are responsible for school bus travel.

She said she would be “putting pressure” on the council again - if she won May’s General Election.

Ms Atkins accepted an annual travel bill of £858 per child in some areas was a “lot of money.”

She told pupils: “I am not making any promises I can’t keep but I will be putting pressure on the County Council. People have a right to a good education, no matter where they live.”

Ms Atkins was quizzed about defence spending and said she would press for a two per cent increase in the current budget.

She told pupils about a meeting with the chief executive of the East Midlands Ambulance Service in which she had called for improvements in the Horncastle area.

Ms Atkins was asked about her rivals in May’s election with UKIP’s Colin Mair tipped to make a strong challenge in the long-time Tory stronghold. She said was treating all her opponents as ‘credible.’

She toured the school and described it as “brilliant”, saying she was impressed with a tough anti-bullying message and the system of tutor groups in which older pupils support younger children.

Headteacher Nicki Shore thanked Ms Atkins for the visit and said pupils had found it “very interesting.”