Mum demands school walk ruling rethink

AN EIGHT-year-old boy could have to walk two miles along a busy road notorious for accidents to get to school after the council revoked his free bus privileges.

Ali Sweeting was told her son Archie can no longer take the free bus to Weare Academy First School as he has turned eight and would have to pay or find alternative transport.

Somerset County Council said Archie would only continue to be eligible if the walking route was more than three miles or classed as ‘unsafe’ to walk.

But it insists the two-mile walking route along the A38 is safe – despite being a 50mph road with a history of accidents.

The road does not have a pavement in some sections, and has limited crossing points.

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Ms Sweeting has been forced to take both Archie and six-year-old daughter Teagan to school by car - although Teagan is still eligible - because of her concerns about the road, but she says others without cars might not be so fortunate if the same rules are applied.

Ms Sweeting, of Rees Way, Biddisham, said: “I asked the council to reassess the route on safety grounds but they say it was deemed safe in 2009.

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“There has been a fatal accident on the road. I feel the safety officer hasn’t given any consideration to safety at all.”

She has also contacted MP Tessa Munt to ask for her help on the issue.

A council spokesman said: “Providing school transport is dependent on the statutory walking distance between the child’s home and the school they attend.

“For a child aged eight or over, the statutory walking distance is three miles.

“If the shortest route is less than three miles, then the parents are responsible for arranging their child’s transport.

“The distance between Biddisham and Weare school is under three miles so the council does not have to provide statutory school transport.

“There is a footpath along the route which is suitable for walking the distance. The parents are welcome to contact us for further information.”

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