'It's dangerous' - lack of buses leave kids in Somerset 'struggling to get to school'

A Somerset family are having to rely on a neighbour to take their daughter to primary school due to a lack of bus places.

Without the help of family friends, Leia Torrance would face a 30 to 40 minute walk down country lanes with no footpath or street lights to get from her home in West Camel to her school near Yeovil.

Her parents - Sarah and David Torrance - do not drive. Her dad is learning but her mum is unable to drive for health reasons.

Leia did have a paid-for place on a school bus, but it was taken away because she lives "too close" to the school.

The council says it has increased spending on school buses in recent years

It comes as a Somerset MP says some parents in the county are choosing to home-educate their children because they have no way of getting them to school.

The issue is made worse by the lack of public bus routes and a struggle for school bus places.

Somerton and Frome MP David Warburton says it is leaving families with few options to get pupils to classes.

Somerset County Council said it provides transport for every child who is eligible, but the Torrence family say they have been left in a "dangerous" situation.

Sarah said: "We’re expected to walk there and back four times a day along those busy roads - no public footpaths, no street lights."

Sarah and David Torrance's daughter Leia relies on a lift to school from their neighbour Credit: ITV News West Country

"It’s dangerous," added David. "They’re extending the dual carriageway here, the A303, and what we’ve noticed is that there’s been a huge buildup of more traffic - people using our village as a by-road."

Leia’s paid-for bus place was one for children who are not entitled for a free spot - often because they live too close to the school.

Somerset County Council says those places are not guaranteed because they have to prioritise eligible pupils - but the Torrances are not alone in this issue.

The Conservative MP for Somerton and Frome, David Warburton, says he's been contacted by multiple families over this issue.

David Warburton says he's heard of parents turning to homeschooling

He said: "In rural areas, particularly, they are often very few bus routes, often none at all. Those that there are can sometimes be massively overcrowded and not everyone, not all parents and carers have the means or the resources to get their children to school.

"I've heard of children who are being homeschooled specifically because they can't get a place on the bus or others who have often quite severe disabilities who are frightened of getting on the bus because it's so overcrowded," he said.

A Somerset County Council spokesperson said: "We provide transport for every child who is entitled to statutory school transport in Somerset and we have increased spending on this service by £4.5million in the last five years.

"We also offer paid seats for pupils who are not entitled to school transport where national regulation allows, but this is not guaranteed as we have to prioritise eligible pupils.

"Our admissions team does the best they can to advise people on any options that may be available and parents can contact the council if they feel the road is unsafe so our Road Safety Team can carry out an assessment."