Children face six-mile walk to school if bus to Attleborough Academy is axed

Cars travelling through Great Ellingham. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Cars travelling through Great Ellingham. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Children face the prospect of a six-mile walk to school beside a fast and busy road if their school bus is axed, it has been claimed.

Norfolk County Council (NCC) is currently consulting on controversial plans to cut bus subsidies.

That would put many services to rural communities at risk - including the route taking students from Great Ellingham to Attleborough Academy.

The council has duty to provide free transport to pupils living within a three mile radius, meaning youngsters in Great Ellingham who fall outside that zone could be faced with walking up to six miles.

NCC has instead proposed to build a £60,000, three-mile long footpath along the B1077.

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But Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has written to NCC chief executive Wendy Thomson to say there is a 'widespread belief that it is unreasonable, and clearly inappropriate, to expect many pupils in the Great Ellingham area to have to walk up to six miles a day along this road in order to attend school'.

The council has stressed that no final decisions have been made and that it will consider all public feedback.

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He added: 'The B1077 is a fast and especially dangerous stretch of road with many blind corners and a considerable number of large heavy goods vehicles passing through. It is not particularly well lit either.

'Given that the average walk for many youngsters in Great Ellingham would be over an hour either way, it also seems incredibly unlikely to me that parents will allow their children to make the journey themselves.

'As a result, the amount of traffic travelling from Great Ellingham will almost certainly increase - compounding the serious pre-existing congestion issues already affecting the town centre during peak times and which will only worsen once the substantial, planned developments are eventually constructed to the south of the town.

'I therefore do not consider it acceptable to end the current bus service and replace it with the proposed footpath.'

An NCC spokesman said: 'We do review school transport provision every year to make sure our policies follow national legislation and are applied fairly to every child in Norfolk.

'No decisions have been made regarding this bus service - we're being informed by public feedback that will be considered as part of our consultation.

'The consultation runs until mid-January.'

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