Bus service reinstated - but problems over speed limits on roads remain

Route children are expected to walk or cycle along

Route children are expected to walk or cycle along - Credit: Archant

A bus service for school pupils has been reinstated until next year - but campaigners believe more could still be done.

In August 2020 North Somerset Council announced the school bus service linking Winscombe to Churchill Academy was to be withdrawn.

The outcry has resulted in a U-turn after the council announced the bus service will continue until at least Easter 2022.

More: Children face 'dangerous' route to school after bus service withdrawn.

The delay is to allow time for safe walking and cycling routes to be developed.

More than 1,700 people signed the petition calling for the service to continue.

Route children are expected to walk or cycle along

Route children are expected to walk or cycle along - Credit: Archant

Last year, the authority sent letters to parents stating the bus service was being withdrawn, along with a map of a designated safe walking or cycle route for children to take to the school.

Parents said the hour-long route was ‘dangerous’ and goes through unlit lanes, busy country roads with 60mph speed limits and blind spots, and through fields.

Route children are expected to walk or cycle along

Route children are expected to walk or cycle along - Credit: Archant

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Weston's MP, John Penrose, welcomed the council’s letter confirming a U-turn as a victory for people-power and for ward councillor Ann Harley, who has been working closely with Mr Penrose to represent local concerns.

Mr Penrose said: "It’s a big win for people power; both local parents and district councillor Ann Harley who've campaigned strongly and worked with me closely to make sure pupils can get to school safely."

Campaigners still feel that more should be done to protect children going to school.

Route children are expected to walk or cycle along

Route children are expected to walk or cycle along - Credit: Archant

Dr John Simmons, 20’s Plenty campaign co-ordinator for Churchill, said: "The council has recently implemented a 20mph speed limit on a very short stretch of road close to the school, a measure that has seemingly been introduced with little or no consultation with the local community.

"Mystifyingly, the limit stops short of the school, with the result that drivers are permitted, perhaps even encouraged, to speed up as they pass the school. 

"Why didn’t the council extend the 20mph zone to include roads immediately next to the school?

"Similarly, the route from Congresbury is narrow, winding and unlit, but has a 60mph speed limit, while the residential, narrow and pavement-less, 30mph Front Street, provides the walking and cycling route for pupils coming from the housing developments along the A38. Surely the speed limits on these roads require review?

"The Churchill 20mph zone neither meets the needs of the local community, nor complies with government policy. It is symptomatic of wider disarray within the council’s highways department.

"The looming Banwell bypass could result in a catastrophic increase in traffic through Churchill, Winscombe and Sandford. If the council thinks that implementing a short 20mph zone on one road is going to help encourage pupils to walk to school then they need to think again."

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