Pirate FM News

Cornish parents take walk to school fight to ombudsman

Cornish parents take walk to school fight to ombudsman

Published by Emma Carton at 6:27am 11th September 2018. (Updated at 4:26pm 11th September 2018)

Parents in north Cornwall whose children are facing a long walk to school along narrow country lanes pledge to take their case to the ombudsman, to fight for a change in national policy.

Cornwall Council has scrapped free bus travel for pupils living under three miles from Sir James' Smith's in Camelford.

Mums and dads in and around Delabole launched a campaign, describing the route as 'downright dangerous'.

A petition that has been signed by more than 4,000 people says it has no street lights, no pavement and limited phone signal.

The change affects 21 youngsters this year, however families have recently lost a second appeal to reinstate the transport.

delabole school walking route
This is the route some pupils who attend Sir James' Smith's in Camelford are facing after free bus travel was scrapped

Now some, like dad Steve Winchester, have told Pirate FM they will take the battle to a national level.

"Children are going to be walking down a single-lane carriageway where one vehice completely fills the carriageway; you literally have to jump off the carriageway.

"God forbid any child walks down that road and gets knocked down.

"Somebody, at the end of the day, has a duty of care not to make those decisions that are likely to put kids in danger".

Local dad Steve Winchester

delabole school walking route
A petition to reinstate free bus passes has notched up thousands of signatures but parents in Delabole have recently lost a second appeal

The issue has been brought up in Parliament, when North Cornwall MP Scott Mann challenged Theresa May during Prime Minister's Questions.

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 deems 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.

"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".

Response from Prime Minister Theresa May

delabole school walking route
Parents in Delabole have described it as downright dangerous but officials who carried out assessments insist the route is suitable for pedestrians

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

"National policy and statutory legislation determines who is eligible for free home to school transport, and, unfortunately, due to the budgetary pressures on all councils at present, we cannot provide free transport for all.

"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.

"Where there is any question over the suitability of the route for pedestrian use, the Council undertakes a Pedestrian Route Assessment.

"In this case, two assessments of the walking route from Delabole to Sir James' Smith School have been undertaken in accordance with the Council's published Pedestrian Route Assessment Policy and the Home to School Transport Policy and both assessments have determined that the route is suitable for pedestrian use.

"The Council's Transport Appeals Panel heard the cases submitted by parents, and upheld these findings".

Cornwall Council's Home to School Policy

Contact Us

If you would like to submit a query or provide more information on this story please get in touch below.

Please wait...
  • Up to 3 JPG or PNG images, 2MB max size
  • We will always endeavour to credit you when we publish your pictures.
  • By uploading you are agreeing to this non-exclusive reuse, royalty-free, across all Pirate FM platforms, which extends to our partner broadcasters.
  • You retain copyright to all images.
  • If you would like to send us a video, please upload to YouTube or similar and paste the video URL into the message above.
Email Icon

Sign up for exclusive news, competitions and offers.
Proper Local News updates from Pirate FM

Pirate Extra Pirate 70s Escape LoveCornwall