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Villagers defeat school bus cut which would have seen children walking six miles to school

PUBLISHED: 08:36 19 January 2018 | UPDATED: 08:36 19 January 2018

Attleborough Academy. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Attleborough Academy. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Villagers have defeated a proposed school bus cut which would have meant children walking six miles to and from school alongside a fast and busy road.

Attleborough Academy. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAttleborough Academy. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk County Council (NCC) proposed removing the service taking students from Great Ellingham to Attleborough Academy as part of controversial plans to cut bus subsidies.

The authority has a duty to provide free transport to pupils living within a three-mile radius but it instead proposed building a £60,000 footpath along the B1077.

But that was immediately derided by the area’s MP, George Freeman, who wrote to NCC chief executive Wendy Thomson to say there is a “widespread belief that it is unreasonable, and clearly inappropriate, to expect many pupils in the Great Ellingham area to have to walk up to six miles a day along this road in order to attend school”.

A petition against the plans also gained more than 100 signatures.

Traffic in Great Ellingham. Picture: SONYA DUNCANTraffic in Great Ellingham. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

However a decision notice from NCC following the closure of a consultation on Friday, January 12 now says the authority will “not proceed with the proposal”.

Niki Park, senior passenger transport manager, wrote: “There have been significant points raised relating to the physical nature of the route and the proposed trod that were not apparent during the feasibility study, for example the number of unreported accidents, which bring a heightened risk to pedestrians using this route.”

She added that a number of objections had been raised during the consultation, including that traffic would get worse along the road as more houses are built and that many parents will choose to drive their children to school, adding to the area’s traffic woes.

Opponents also argued young people would be too tired once they got to school and that the daily walk would affect their mental well-being.

Mr Freeman said: “I welcome the news that Norfolk County Council will not be cutting the bus route taking schoolchildren from Great Ellingham to Attleborough Academy.

“It would have been unreasonable, and most inappropriate, to remove this service and instead expect students to walk down a three mile long trod beside a particularly busy and dangerous road.”

A NCC spokesman said: “We were really grateful to everyone who took the time to respond to our consultation. The feedback helped to provide some useful extra information about the nature of the route which has helped us to make the decision that we will not be taking the proposal forward.”

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