School bus joy for Pinchbeck family

Rudi Vanbeck and mum Stacey Evans will no longer have to walk to school. SG100316-126TW
Rudi Vanbeck and mum Stacey Evans will no longer have to walk to school. SG100316-126TW
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A Pinchbeck mum was overjoyed on Monday when the Spalding Guardian broke the news that she will no longer have to walk six miles to and from school with her son, Rudi (4).

For the last three months, Stacey Evans has pushed Rudi in a buggy while the free transport he used to ride went by with empty seats.

Rudi Vanbeck travelled on a minibus from the Bull pub to Surfleet Primary School until just before Christmas.

But after the family moved streets in Pinchbeck – leaving their lad more than a mile further away from school – Lincolnshire County Council withdrew his free transport.

On Monday, when the Guardian intervened, the county council told us it was restoring Rudi’s free transport.

We broke the news to Stacey, who told us: “It’s brilliant. It’s been three long months of walking Rudi to school. I am really happy. I just want to say thank you for your help. It’s been terrible some days when we’ve had torrential rain and we were soaked through before we even got there.”

Until December, Rudi, his mum and dad, James Evans, lived with Rudi’s grandma in Keepers Close, some 2.2 miles from Surfleet School.

Their move to Pennyfield left Rudi 3.1 miles from Surfleet school.

Stacey said the minibus already picked someone up from a stop closer to their new home, but when she asked the council if Rudi could be picked up there, his free transport was stopped – and she was asked to apply to schools nearer their home.

She said: “There’s no places at the school that’s nearest, Pinchbeck East, so he can’t go there. He’s already settled in at Surfleet.”

Rudi’s dad has a boy of nine who gets free school transport in a taxi between Gosberton and Spalding’s Monkhouse School, which made it harder still for the family to understand why Rudi was being treated so harshly.

Council school services manager David Robinson said: “We are pleased to report that transport to Surfleet Primary School has been approved for Rudi. We advised the parent that she needed to make an application to the nearer schools through the council’s admissions system to establish that there are no places in these schools – this has now been agreed.

“When a family moves address the school transport policy applies to that new address. Parents can attempt to get a school place for their children at a nearer school to their new address. There are seven nearer primary schools to the new address so this is why transport to Surfleet was initially refused – we hadn’t had any evidence that the alternative, nearer, schools couldn’t offer Rudi a place, as the parent had not applied for places in the nearer schools. Where parents can’t get their child into their nearest schools we always provide transport where the distance to the allocated school is beyond the walking distance.”