A new initiative was launched yesterday to encourage children in a deprived part of a Norfolk town to cycle to school by offering discounts on the cost of recycled bikes.

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South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss gave a speech at the launch of the Subsidised Bike Purchase Scheme at Thetford Academy, which is funded by the academy and healthcare provider NHS Norfolk and Waveney and Green Ventures bike shop in Brunel Way, Thetford.

The unique project, which could be rolled out across the county, will enable all the academy students to get a 10pc discount off the price of a new bike and a 25pc discount on accessories and repairs from social enterprise Green Ventures, which specialises in recycling used bikes donated by the public.

Carol Doherty, a public health officer with NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said there may be some children who lived three miles away from the school, but did not want to catch the bus and the bikes would provide them with a healthy alternative to get into school.

She added: “I think it is a mixture of having facilities there, but also individual attitudes. We are trying to influence people to consider walking or cycling, but also trying to help those who need a helping hand to fulfil that goal and that is what we are there for.”

The academy currently has two sites- a north and south campus- but all its students will be based at the north campus once its new building has been completed by September 2013.

Cathy Spillane, the academy’s principal, said: “We are aware of concern from some parents about the increased journey for their children in travelling across town to our North Campus so we are pleased to be able to provide some help to pupils to buy a bike or safety equipment.

“The academy has already provided support by subsidising a bus service and this partnership initiative will provide students with an alternative means to get to school and promote healthy living.”

Pupils who are entitled to free school meals will also be given a £50 voucher towards the cost of buying a bike, funded jointly by the academy and NHS Norfolk and Waveney.

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