A PLEA has been made in a bid to secure a bus service for Hampshire school pupils.

As previously reported, Xelabus has made the decision to stop its 503 Thornden School morning service after February half-term.

The service is used by Valley Park students to get to school every morning.

The bus company said its afternoon school service will continue as normal.

Firm managing director Gareth Blair previously told the Echo the company was scrapping the service due to a low patronage.

He said the number of pupils using the morning service had regularly “struggled to reach double digits”.

Parents and civic chiefs said the number of students using the service had dropped due to the bus being slightly late in the morning.

However, parents said they were disappointed to hear that the service had been withdrawn.

Leigh Atkinson, whose daughter and son have been using the 503 bus for the last seven years, said: “It gives children a sense of independence and, of course, it reduces traffic on the road.”

Now a new plea has been launched to maintain the service.

Alan Dowden, borough councillor for Valley Park ward, is appealing for local businesses and organisations to come forward and help provide a bus to ensure the service continues.

He said:“I just don’t want the bus to disappear, it would be a great shame.”

The 46-year-old bank director said that increasing the bus fees, along with a grant from the parish council could help save the service.

But Councillor Dowden said due to the cuts neither the county council nor the parish council can fully fund the service, but they can help with a financial contribution.

He said: “It’s about finding something that is cheap enough for us to afford.

“The last option is to hope other organisations will come forward. They only have to pick them up in about three different spots,” he added.

Cllr Dowden said between 40 to 50 children would use the service in the morning.

He claims if there will not be any other option to guarantee a bus service from Valley Park to Thornden School, many children will have to walk about three miles to go to school or will have to be driven to school.

He said: “Three miles is quite a long walk particularly in inclement weather.

“What I am concerned about is the fact that all these extra cars going into school is causing even more air pollution and it is always causing the congestion.”