“UNRELIABLE” buses have been slammed by parents and a village school.

Over the summer Hedingham Omnibuses won the home to school transport contract for Hedingham School, replacing Turners of Essex.

Livid parents have been met with increased prices as well as buses which, it is claimed, run up to 30 minutes late.

Parents living in a number of villages have raised concern, including Pebmarsh, Gosfield and Toppesfield, with one branding the scheme “ridiculous”.

She said: “I paid £145 for the first term last year, and now I am being asked to pay £260.

“Nobody’s wages have gone up by that much, so how can that price hike be justified?

“Journey times have doubled, but they expect our children to be bright eyed and bushy tailed first thing, but it is not possible.”

The mum added: “It is ridiculous, and this policy clearly doesn’t work in rural areas.

“Now, we have all the parents driving in to the school, and it is not only hectic but dangerous.

“We have too many cars coming down these single track roads, alongside hundreds of kids, it will cause an accident.”

Headteacher John Panayi said: “Hedingham School and Sixth Form is extremely disappointed and concerned about the severe difficulties experienced by students and parents following the change of school bus contractor by Essex County Council.

“This situation is made more difficult for the school as it has no control over the contractor or the school transport policy.

“This responsibility lies with Essex County Council whose lack of response or engagement with the school and parents has made a difficult situation worse.

“We would encourage parents to also raise their concerns with Essex County Council and its representatives and to contact their MP.”

Jeremy Cooper, managing director of Hedingham Omnibuses, said: “We are aware of the criticism of the new timetable and have been working with the school and parents to make changes where we can..

“We were not originally expected to offer transport to children whose parents pay for their travel but have made a number of alterations to accommodate as many additional users as possible.

“I would like to put on record our thanks to Hedingham School for their help with advice and communication.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “The home to school transport contract was won by Hedingham through a competitive tender process.

“While we sympathise with any increased costs the sale of private seats is entirely a matter for the operator.”