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Fears for children having to walk 'dangerous route' to school

Fears for children having to walk 'dangerous route' to school

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 6:03am 13th July 2018. (Updated at 7:35am 13th July 2018)

There are fears for the safety of children in Delabole who have been 'told' they have to walk all the way to school in Camelford.

Free bus travel has been scrapped for kids at Sir James Smith's School who are over 11 years old and live under three miles away.

But parents have launched a campaign saying the walking route along narrow country lanes is 'downright dangerous'.

Almost 2,500 people have signed a petition which describes the route as having no street lighting, little phone signal and no pavement.

21 youngsters will be affected when the new the rule comes into force in September.

delabole school walking route

Gareth is a dad from the area. He told Pirate FM: "There are tractors screaming up and down the road, there are new drivers screaming up and down the road, there are holiday makers getting lost and doing U-turns in the road.

"Delabole is one of the fog-capitals of Europe, you can't see your hand in front of your face half of the time when it's foggy there.

"I remember going to school and if you were scruffy you were in trouble, try walking an hour and a half through the filth and muck.

"If you get a rubbish day in Delabole it truly is a rubbish day, they're going to go in looking a mess, they're going to go in tired, that is no way to start the school day."

delabole school walking route

Pupils living in Delabole were previously given bus passes but were informed that they were no longer eligible for free transport to school from September as outlined in Cornwall Council's Home to School Policy 2017/8.

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said: "National policy and statutory requirements determine who is eligible for free home to school transport.

"Unfortunately, the Council can't subsidise free school to home transport for all children.

"Like other local authorities we face huge pressures on our school transport budget, which means that we can only provide transport when children live over a certain distance from their school.

"In this case, two assessments of the walking route to and from school have been undertaken in accordance with the national requirements and have found it is suitable for pedestrian use.

"There is a robust appeals process in place for any parent or carer who feels that the Home to School Transport policy has not been applied correctly or that there are exceptional circumstances under which transport should be provided."

delabole school walking route

North Cornwall MP Scott Mann raised the issue in Parliament.

During Prime Minister's Questions, he described the conditions which pupils at Sir James Smith's School will have to face as they walk three miles to school along narrow country lanes.

He said he was concerned about how children would have to walk in dark and wet conditions in the winter, with cars, lorries and tractors passing close by.

Under government guidelines, free school transport must be provided to children over eight years old if they live more than three miles from school.

The Council deem the distance to school for children in Delabole to be three miles, but Mr. Mann said this is based on the assumption that they walk along the shortest route along narrow country lanes.

delabole school walking route

Responding to the concerns, Theresa May said: "We are committed to recognising the responsibilities that local authorities have on these matters and we've been providing them with the funding they need. We've increased the funding for Cornwall for 2019/20 by over £12 million since 2015/16.

"It is a matter for the local authority to decide how to spend their funding and to make decisions on local matters, but I agree with him and would encourage local authorities that in doing that, they are absolutely taking into account the wishes and concerns of the communities they serve, including the community of Delabole."

delabole school walking route

The decision was also upheld after parent appeals.

They are now going to stage two of the appeals process, in the hope that the appeals panel will look at all the information and determine that the route is unsafe.

Speaking after PMQs, Scott Mann MP said: "One important part of education delivery in a rural area like Cornwall is that children can get to school safely.

"By refusing Delabole children free transport, Cornwall Council is risking their welfare. The distance that they have to walk is very far, but the distance in a bus is very small.

"The children live just under the three-mile threshold from school, which is calculated using the shortest possible route, which is comprised of narrow country lanes that are a real hazard in the summer let alone in the winter.

"That's why I have brought this issue to the attention of the Prime Minister, and I hope her words, and the campaigning by local parents will make the Council reconsider their decision."

delabole school walking route

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