Harrogate schoolboy left with a long walk home

A HARROGATE schoolboy was forced to walk home from Ripon after he said he was refused entry to the number 36 bus.

Aaron Needham, 15, who suffers from asthma, has been off school with a chest infection since the incident, which involved a five-hour walk in the cold.

His mum, Melissa Garbutt, said she was outraged by Transdev’s actions and revealed that she had rung Harrogate Hospital’s A&E department in a panic when Aaron had still not returned home hours after the usual time.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s child endangerment,” she said.

“Aaron was walking along main roads. Where he’s had to walk, there’s no footpaths and there are signs up on the daffodil bends about how many people have been killed there.

“It’s not safe.”

She said that Aaron, a pupil at Ripon Outwood Academy who uses the 36 service every day, had been given the wrong ticket on the bus in the morning and was then refused entry by the driver as he tried to make his way home later on.

With his mobile phone in for repair, he then made the 13-mile journey back to his home in Harrogate on foot, leaving the bus stop shortly after 3pm and arriving home five hours later.

“My son is asthmatic and he’s still off school with a chest infection,” Mrs Garbutt said.

“He left the school itself at ten to three and arrived home at quarter past eight.

“I rang the bus company about it, and their idea of compensation was a three-day bus pass.”

Ms Garbutt said Aaron had asked the driver: “What do you expect me to do, walk to Harrogate?” but that, if he had further disputed the driver’s decision, he could have been thrown off the bus for arguing.

Nigel Eggleton, from Transdev Harrogate & District, said: “Following Ms Garbutt’s original complaint, we’ve conducted a thorough review of the incident, including viewing the on-board CCTV footage.

“Although an incorrect ticket was issued earlier in the day, the evidence indicates that our driver did not turn her son away nor have the opportunity to explain his willingness to allow the young man to remain on board – indeed our drivers are instructed to do so in such circumstances.

“The safety of all our passengers, particularly children, is paramount.

“We have offered Ms Garbutt compensation for the distress the issuing of an incorrect ticket obviously caused and would be pleased to discuss the matter further with her if she wishes.”