School bus cuts ‘discriminate’ against pupils in rural areas

Norfolk County Council is consulting on removing free school transport for children in Catfield and

Norfolk County Council is consulting on removing free school transport for children in Catfield and Hickling who go to Stalham High and Stalham Academy.The Whiting family will be affected: Gareth Whiting with Adam (13), Beth (12), Samuel (10) and Declan (7).Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Children in rural areas are being discriminated against by a council which is clamping down on free school transport, it has been claimed.

Hickling parish councillor Maggie Prettyman is concerned for pupils' safety.

Hickling parish councillor Maggie Prettyman is concerned for pupils' safety. - Credit: Copyright Archant Norfolk.

Hickling Parish Council revealed that it intended to lodge a formal objection against plans to force children in the village to walk a six mile round-trip to Stalham High School each day.The proposals to reclassify walking routes are part of an ongoing countywide effort to cut Norfolk County Council's annual £26.3m home to school transport bill.

But parish councillors claim the move will put children's lives at risk and make the village less attractive to live in.

Maggie Prettyman, of Hickling Parish Council, said: 'Those of us who live locally know exactly how dangerous that road is.

'You can have a time of year when it appears to be quite quiet and then another time when you will have 40-tonne trucks going up there which nobody can avoid.

'You have to climb right up the side of the verge and hang on to the trees to try to keep away from them.'


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Richard Snowden, the council's head of school admissions, said: 'We do try to understand the concerns that any parent has, in particular those that live in rural areas.'

The proposals to reclassify walking routes between two villages and Stalham are part of an ongoing county-wide effort to cut Norfolk County Council's annual £26.3m home to school transport bill.

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By law, children who live within two or three miles of their school, depending on their age, are entitled to free school transport if there is no 'available walking route'.

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