Kids walk three miles as bus is stuck

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An investigation has been launched into why pupils were allowed to walk three miles to school after their bus was caught up in traffic.

Students of Southlands High School and Holy Cross High School took matters into their own hands after a three-vehicle collision closed the A6 Chorley Road for two hours on Monday.

Around 80 students were stranded on the 795 service and with the driver not prepared to move until a suitable police diversion had been opened they decided to vote with their feet.

Several pupils – some as young as 11 – walked up to three miles to school while others returned home on foot to Adlington.

Lancashire County Council has confirmed an investigation has been launched but the parent of one of the stranded children says it could have ended in tragedy.

Gillian Whittle’s 12-year-old son Owen, who goes to Southlands, was one of those to walk back to Adlington after the bus stopped close to Fredericks Ice Cream shop.

She thinks if the local education authority used a Chorley bus company – instead of Wigan-based Olympia Travel – the incident would have been avoided. The 42-year-old said: “The health and safety of the children should be paramount. I have spoken to Lancashire County Council and they told me that you cannot keep the children on the bus but I am concerned about the dangers of them walking home.”

She also claimed: “I contacted the coach company and the driver told me that they could not follow the diversion because there is a low bridge.

“I told him that he could have gone along Wigan Lane and possibly through Charnock Brow but he said he did not know about that way.

“Some parents are working so it is not easy for them to look after their children if they are not at school. I was lucky that Owen went to his friend’s house.

“I am really worried that last week some of the pupils had modular exams and they could have missed them.”

“Why can’t the council use one of the two local bus companies such as Tyrers or White Bear Coaches who would know the area better instead of a firm from Wigan?”

A spokesman for Olympia Travel directed press inquiries to Lancashire County Council.

Peter Brown, principal transportation officer at LCC, said: “Our first priority for school transport is children’s safety and we are reviewing the circumstances of this morning’s journey with the bus company.

“We understand that the driver followed the advice of police in waiting in the line of standing traffic to reach the point where he would have been able to take a diversion.

“The complete closure of the A6 is an exceptional event, and we would not expect the driver of a double decker bus to make a diversion using local roads which may not be suitable due to weight limits and height restrictions.”

A spokesman for Southlands High School, said: “We received a number of telephone calls from concerned parents to say that the bus could not get through the traffic.

“Some of the pupils got lifts with their parents while the majority walked to school and most of them arrived by 9.45am.”