'Unsafe' to ask Great Ellingham children to walk six miles to Attleborough Academy along fast road, villagers say
Cutting a school bus and instead building a footpath along a fast and busy road would leave children with an "unsafe" six-mile route to school, villagers have claimed.
Norfolk County Council (NCC) has been consulting on controversial plans to cut bus subsidies, which would put many services to rural communities at risk - including the route taking students from Great Ellingham to Attleborough Academy.
The council has duty to provide free transport to pupils living within a three mile radius, meaning youngsters in Great Ellingham who fall outside that zone could be faced with walking up to six miles.
NCC has instead proposed to build a £60,000, three-mile long footpath along the B1077.
But that was been criticised by villagers, with the area’s MP - George Freeman - writing to NCC chief executive Wendy Thomson to say the proposal are “unreasonable” and “clearly inappropriate”.
The county council has stressed that no final decisions have been made and that it will consider all public feedback.
Great Ellingham Parish Council chairman Tim Betts said: “I’ve done my own risk assessment. I don’t believe it’s safe to ask children to walk along that road.”
He said the B1077 may have a 60mph speed limit but added: “As is the case with many speed limits, far too many people ignore it.
“You also have a lot of HGV vehicles using that road. Then when you ask children to walk to school, they obviously walk in little gatherings.
“They would have to walk single file along the path.
“There’s been a lot of development round here and the village is about to be hit with more houses. When you put all that together, it seems pretty unsafe.
“Most parents will take their kids to school. That means more cars on the road.”
An NCC spokesman said: “We do review school transport provision every year to make sure our policies follow national legislation and are applied fairly to every child in Norfolk.
“No decisions have been made regarding this bus service - we’re being informed by public feedback that will be considered as part of our consultation.
“The consultation runs until mid-January.”