STUDENTS from Bradon Forest school have won a victory over a bus company after they lobbied to keep a crucial service through their village.
Youngsters in Purton and Cricklade relied upon the Stagecoach 53 route to take them to and from college, and said their futures could be in jeopardy after the service was cut last November.
The Purton and Cricklade Youth Advisory Board, including pupils from Bradon Forest, launched a petition to bring back the service, attracting 760 signatures.
And yesterday they were informed the service would be returning, albeit on a limited basis, as Stagecoach attempt to cut costs.
Ollie Phipps, youth development worker at Wiltshire Council, organises the Advisory Board.
“This has been going on since September when the bus services were under review,” he said. “Off the back of that the service was cancelled in November.
“After the petition had run its course we received a letter from Stagecoach. They had put together a number of options themselves for services which they would still be able to run and save them money.
“They came back to us saying there were going to review service 53, which was really positive. It is great to know that they have now reinstated it.”
The lack of service was hitting pupils in Purton and residents in Purton Stoke hard as their only transport link.
“The service was needed mainly for the kids who needed to get to Cirencester College,” said Ollie.
“There was an early morning and evening route specifically for the college students. Their timetable is quite odd so if they wanted to go they would have to be there all day every day. It is about having that flexibility.
“With this new service it means they can get to Cricklade and get a connecting bus to Cirencester.
“People in Purton Stoke had been completely cut off, so that meant relatives and elderly people could not get to doctors appointments.”
Gus Gardner, 16, was one of six students from Bradon Forest on the Youth Advisory Board.
“They changed the service without consultation, so we are surprised they have gone back on their decision,” he said.
“The service is very important, especially with college decisions, as this will give us another option.
“With the petition we distributed it around the local area and really pushed with local people to make sure they were aware of it. We thought we would try our best because we could see the struggle people were having.
“We thought we have got some power in a group and could influence decisions. That is what kick-started it.”
The group is continuing to push for change in the local area.
“As a group we have been doing assemblies on the bus petition,” added Gus. “We have also put together an anti-bullying presentation which will be going out to schools in the local area, as well as making people aware of the youth service consultation going on in Wiltshire at the moment.”