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Dad Tim Barton of Bethersden measures school bus route in fare row

By Rachael Woods

A father has attacked the “unfair” rules that have seen his 11-year-old daughter denied free bus travel to school.

Self-employed electrician Tim Barton says his daughter Charlotte has been left stranded by Kent County Council (KCC) after it refused to fund her travel, while her sibling and classmates enjoy free transport to school.

Mr Barton, of Ashford Road, Bethersden, has been told that Charlotte’s fare to Homewood School in Tenterden will not be paid, as the John Wallis Academy in Ashford is 0.7 miles closer to their home.

Tim Barton is complaining that daughter Charlotte,11, is being unfairly denied free transport to Homewood School

KCC uses walking distance as a measure to determine the nearest school and Tim said: “I don’t see why they [KCC] would use walking as a measure as no one would ever walk that distance along the busy A28 to school. It’s ridiculous.”

His own investigations found the route by car is shorter to Homewood School, which is 5.8 miles away, while John Wallis is 6.2 miles by road.

In a strange twist, Charlotte’s 14-year-old brother Matthew, who is in Year 10 at Homewood, gets his bus fare paid by KCC, who say the decision to award him free travel was a mistake. Her 21-year-old sister Heather also had her fare paid when she attended the school.

Tim and his daughter Charlotte,11, who has been denied free bus travel to school, despite her brother being granted it

Mr Barton said he knows of no other child living in Bethersden who does not get their bus fare to Homewood School paid for by KCC.

He has also taken a surveyor’s clickwheel around the village, identifying addresses that are nearer John Wallis Academy, according to KCC’s calculations, where pupils’ travel is paid for.

Mr Barton, a Homewood School governor, said: “What’s important is that it’s a level playing field and rules over which fares are paid are applied consistently.”

The 51-year-old took his case to appeal at KCC on September 1, but a panel of councillors and transport officials rejected his claim, which he will now take to the ombudsman.

Mr Barton said he and his wife Georgina, 46, a healthcare assistant at William Harvey Hospital, were driving their daughter to school in the meantime.

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