Parents raise concerns after hearing their children will not receive free school transport

By The Post in Local People

SOME residents living in Delabole have raised concerns, following news that their children will not receive free school transport.

Some students living along High Street are not to receive free school transport to Sir James Smith’s School in Camelford, after receiving letters in the post from Cornwall Council.

However, students living in other nearby streets and areas of the village will still be eligible for this service.

The Post has learned that parents that live from the church on High Street, back to Luggs Garage at the end of the village, have received a letter from Cornwall Council, stating that their children will not be entitled to free school transport to the school.

However, residents living in homes from the church onwards will not be affected by this, due to a three-mile radius rule.

A meeting took place on the evening of Tuesday, July 18 at the Poldark Inn, Delabole, to discuss how to go further with this, and gave members of the community the chance to hear from Cornwall Councillor for St Breward and St Teath, Dominic Fairman (Lib Dem), as well as parish councillors.

Around 20 children from Delabole have had their transport to Sir James Smith’s School reassessed by Cornwall Council, with their families having received letters stating that they are no longer eligible for free transport on the school bus as from October, the meeting heard.

In May 2016, Cornwall Council adopted a new Pedestrian Route Assessment process and many routes have now been reassessed, including a route that covers houses in the Medrose area of the village.

The meeting heard that national guide­lines dictate that free transport will only be provided for children living within three miles of their nearest designated school, if the walking route has been assessed as ‘unsuitable’ for pedestrian use. The minor road between Rockhead and Trevia Lane brings all of the houses north of the church in Delabole within this statutory three-mile radius of the school, and this has now been assessed as ‘safe’ to walk.

However, Cllr Fairman told the meeting that the guidelines ‘do not take into account the weather or darkness, and issues of safety are mainly addressed by the assumption that children will be accompanied by a parent or carer’.

This leaves the whole assessment based on some very technical details, such as traffic flows, average speeds, visibility splays, stopping distances and suitable stepping off points for walkers.

Cllr Fairman told the Post: “Even using the strict guidelines, I am not convinced that this should be considered a safe route for parents and children to use on a daily basis. I have walked the route myself, and find that it will take over an hour from the high street to Sir Jim’s.

“The road is extremely narrow in places with large Cornish hedges either side. In the fog or dark, you would be left just crossing your fingers that cars were approaching bends at a sensible speed.”

Cllr Fairman said that parents at the meeting had particular concerns about their children arriving at school by 8.10am in the morning during the winter months, and how they could possibly find the four hours a day required to accompany them. They all intend to appeal the decision.

He continued: “I think we all know that if this decision is upheld, the upshot will be ten or more cars on the road when the whole point of the national guidelines is to promote sustainable travel. I have been on many planning committees where applications are refused because of an unsustainable reliance on the car.”

Cllr Fairman added: “I hope that the officers of the council can apply some common sense to this situation to the benefit of families, the school and the wider environment.”

Cornwall Council did not provide a comment before the Post went to press.

For those who have been affected by this issue, contact Cllr Fairman directly on 07939 122 303 or at dominic.fairman@cornwallcouncillors.org.uk

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