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‘It’s not safe at all’: Parents’ outrage at council’s ‘dangerous’ route to school

PUBLISHED: 09:10 11 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:10 11 September 2019

Parents made the walk to prove it was not easily or safely accessible. Photo: Matthew Nixon

Parents made the walk to prove it was not easily or safely accessible. Photo: Matthew Nixon

Archant

Parents have hit out at the council after being told students must walk an ‘unkempt and unsafe’ route to the catchment area’s only school.

The route, which parents have named 'the blue line route', crosses under the A12 and passes through farms to Pakefield. Photo: Google MapsThe route, which parents have named 'the blue line route', crosses under the A12 and passes through farms to Pakefield. Photo: Google Maps

The route is an alternative which Suffolk County Council has reportedly drawn up for students of Pakefield high school who live in Kessingland.

It starts on the B1437 London Road, shortly before Ladbrokes, and passes through rural land to the school.

Claire Barnes said: "It's meant to be an alternative to the A12 route which was deemed unsafe in 2012. But it's not safe at all.

"It's unkempt, certainly not maintained, unlit, completely impractical, secluded and most certainly dangerous."

11-year-old Fletch said the overgrown grass and hedges made the walk difficult. Photo: Matthew Nixon11-year-old Fletch said the overgrown grass and hedges made the walk difficult. Photo: Matthew Nixon

"From the age of 11, just outside of primary school, they're expected to walk this."

Parents in the area have walked the route themselves several times to see if it is fair for their children to walk through it to school.

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Mrs Barnes, whose children will be starting at Pakefield high school in the next few years, said: "The paths are overun, the ditches overflow and flood, people have fly tipped rubble along the path. Imagine the state they'll be in when they get to school."

Students will have to walk over a ditch on these narrow planks. Photo: Claire BarnesStudents will have to walk over a ditch on these narrow planks. Photo: Claire Barnes

The route passes under an underpass, along an overgrown path between two farms, past an open field and over a ditch.

Mrs Barnes said: Imagine what that will be like in winter, with rain and fog. We can prove it's not safe, and it takes an hour and 11 minutes."

In July, another mother in the village complained after the council said her son was not entitled to funded travel and would have to walk along the 'dangeorus' main London road.

Mrs Barnes said: "We asked the council for transport, but they say there's no transport as they say it's within three miles of the school.

The route passes a national speed limit road with no pavement to safely walk on. Photo: Claire BarnesThe route passes a national speed limit road with no pavement to safely walk on. Photo: Claire Barnes

"But we measured it on Strava and GPS and we've all come up with 3.2 miles. They're offering no bus or coach."

Other parents said it wasn't about wanting a 'free journey' to school, and one parent said: "It's not about my children having to walk, but if they have to they need a safe route."

A spokesperson for Suffolk County Council said they cannot comment as there is an ongoing appeal with the route, which they are are assessing.


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