School children who have been let down by their local council and had their bus service withdrawn are turning to rail to get them to school.
For several years now thanks to better computer generated route measuring software, local councils have been re-evaluating the distance children live from school. If it is less than three miles, even by a yard, measured school gate to front door, then they no longer qualify for free travel. Among exemptions is if the walking route is unsafe.
Leicestershire County Council withdrew the free bus for children in Sileby who attend Humphrey Perkins School, in Barrow Upon Soar at the end of the Christmas term. In a controversial move the council decided the three-mile walk between the villages was safe after it trimmed back a few trees that force pedestrians to walk in the road.
Head teacher Peter Nutkins is concerned for the safety of the children. ‘They (Leicestershire County Council) are arguing it is reasonably safe. However, when I walked it with David Parsons, the leader of the council, it took us an hour and a quarter, along a busy road. There are pavements less than a metre wide, pot holes, ditches, and that is what the local authority says is reasonable for our children to walk on. It’s just crazy.’
The school has 900 pupils and 51 of those live in Sileby. Mr Nutkins has now negotiated a deal with East Midlands Trains allowing the pupils to travel between Sileby and Barrow for about 50p per day. School staff will be on hand at Barrow station in the morning and afternoon to help pupils.