COUNCIL bosses have refused an 11-year-old boy a free school bus pass – despite giving one to his older brother.
Even though Jon Lawson lives in the same house as his brother Liam, 14, the younger sibling is being left to walk around two miles to Seaham School of Technology and back each day.
The boys’ dad, John Lawson, said they were left stunned when Durham County Council said Jon didn’t qualify for the free bus pass because under new measurement systems, they claim he lives 1.999 miles from the school instead of the two miles and further needed to qualify.
However, because Liam, who has been a pupil at the school for several years, was assessed under the old measuring system, he can keep his pass.
John, 43, of Fern Crescent, Seaham said the first they knew about the refusal was when they phoned up on the day Jon started the secondary school to find out where the pass was, which they had applied for months ago.
He said: “It is a bit of a farce really. I think it is absolutely ridiculous.”
John, who lives with his wife Helen, 39, their sons and their elder child, Jade, 17, said he has calculated lots of routes from his house to the school using his computer and all are more than two miles.
The dad-of-three said: “Jon is only 11 and I don’t want him walking the streets on his own, especially now the dark nights are coming in.”
Jane Jack, school admissions and transport manager at Durham County Council, said: “In the interests of fairness to all pupils, we must ensure that our policy is applied consistently.
“We do acknowledge that it may seem unusual for different decisions to have been made in relation to two brothers going to the same school.
“This has occurred because we have updated the system we use to measure walking distances, upon which we base our decision.
“Although the older brother qualified when he was properly assessed using the previous system, the younger brother does not qualify when properly assessed using the current system, which takes into account, for example, changes to available walking routes.
“While we understand this may cause frustration for the family concerned, it is important that we apply the current policy equally to all applicants.”