U-turn over school bus places

PUBLISHED: 07:10 27 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:11 24 May 2010

YOUNGSTERS in Locking will not have to walk along a dangerous route to school following a successful show of 'people power'. Last month North Somerset Council announced that, from September, many schoolchildren would not get a place on the bus offering fr

YOUNGSTERS in Locking will not have to walk along a dangerous route to school following a successful show of 'people power'.Last month North Somerset Council announced that, from September, many schoolchildren would not get a place on the bus offering free daily transport from the village to Worle School.The authority said it did not have to provide free transport if the distance from a pupil's home to school was less than three miles.Parents joined together with the village's local action team to campaign against the decision, saying the route the children would have to walk is strewn with litter and passes through a dark subway.The campaign also received support from Locking Parish Council.North Somerset councillors Peter Kehoe and Elfan Ap Rees walked the route on April 7 to see what parents are concerned about.Rachel Bailey, one of the campaigning mums, said: "They only got to the end of Elm Tree Road before they decided it was unsafe. They didn't even get as far as the subway."We were told the council carried out a risk assessment but it couldn't have been very watertight."Cllr Kehoe said: "The proposed route went down Elm Tree Road but there was no proper path."The gap between the wall and the road was only about a metre wide and had three different levels so instead of watching for oncoming traffic, children would have been looking at their feet to make sure they did not fall over."We have said unless another route can be found, the bus service should continue to be supplied."I doubt another route can be found and we have a legal and moral obligation to provide a bus service when a suitable route is unavailable."Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, who represents Locking, said: "I found the whole thing stupid. Children would ride on a bus to Worle School which would have passed other children who were walking to the same school because this rule was being applied so strictly."The new rule would have applied to new pupils at the Redwing Drive school. Existing pupils would have retained their places on the bus.A North Somerset Council spokesman said: "The free bus service will continue to be provided to all schoolchildren in Locking."The proposed walking route is no longer considered safe and we will be writing to parents to say the bus will continue.

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