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Parents tell of anger as council reject pleas for school bus to be saved

PUBLISHED: 16:51 11 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:51 11 February 2020

Lily Cole, 11, must carry a heavy backpack with school books and gym kit. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Lily Cole, 11, must carry a heavy backpack with school books and gym kit. Picture: Ruth Lawes

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Parents have told of their anger after a council rejected their pleas to save a bus to transport their children to school in the next village.

Anna Lartey, 46, and her daughter Erin, 11, say walking to school twice a week with a cello is unmanagabely heavy. Picture: Ruth LawesAnna Lartey, 46, and her daughter Erin, 11, say walking to school twice a week with a cello is unmanagabely heavy. Picture: Ruth Lawes

In November, Hethersett Academy announced it was cancelling its bus between Little Melton and the school in September 2020.

Since the announcement, parents have been campaigning for Norfolk County Council to introduce a new bus to cover the journey.

They argued that the walking route suggested by the council was unsafe, as parts of it ran alongside a road with no pavement or street lights.

However, the council rejected the request for a free replacement bus, and on Monday, rejected an appeal against this decision.

Martin Herbert, 54, with children Alfie, 13, and Emily, 11, is worried the axing of the bus service will have an impact on eductation. Picture: Ruth LawesMartin Herbert, 54, with children Alfie, 13, and Emily, 11, is worried the axing of the bus service will have an impact on eductation. Picture: Ruth Lawes

The council said it was only able to make its decision based on "the physical nature of the route", and could not take into account "personal safety issues of children travelling alone".

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Niki Park, head of passenger transport at NCC, said: "Local authorities are not legally obliged to provide free transport just because parents perceive the route to be unsafe on the grounds of personal safety and security."

READ MORE: Parents stage protest after school bus axed

In their appeal letter, parents raised concerns about the level of traffic on the stretch of route along Little Melton Road, which does not have a pavement.

On the route, there is construction work which has sparked safety fears among parents. Picture: Ruth LawesOn the route, there is construction work which has sparked safety fears among parents. Picture: Ruth Lawes

They also pointed out that the road was a designated HGV route, and that the narrowness of the road put children at risk of being hit by wide vehicles.

However, the council said the route was "straight with good visibility and low traffic flow", and that on sections with no verges, the 5.5m wide road left enough room for a large vehicle to safely pass a pedestrian.

Parents have been invited to submit a second appeal within 20 days.

Jessica Cole, head of the campaign group, said: "This decision will seriously affect the ability of our children and future generations of children to safely access good education. This applies to children of Little Melton but also to children in all areas being affected by similar school transport cuts."

Parents are concerned about the risk of flooding on the route to Hethersett Academy. Picture: Ruth LawesParents are concerned about the risk of flooding on the route to Hethersett Academy. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Norfolk County Council has been contacted for comment.


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