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‘A child could be killed’ - Parents stage protest after school bus axed

PUBLISHED: 16:56 16 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:58 16 December 2019

Parents and children walked the route in protest to show the potential dangers of the walk. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Parents and children walked the route in protest to show the potential dangers of the walk. Picture: Ruth Lawes

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Parents concerned about the axing of a school bus service have walked the 40-minute journey to demonstrate the danger to children, as it was revealed education chiefs are reconsidering their decision.

Martin Herbert, 54, with children Alfie, 13, and Emily, 11, is worried the axing of the bus service will have an impact on eductation. Picture: Ruth LawesMartin Herbert, 54, with children Alfie, 13, and Emily, 11, is worried the axing of the bus service will have an impact on eductation. Picture: Ruth Lawes

More than 30 pupils will be denied a school bus next year after Hethersett Academy announced plans to slash the service from Little Melton.

Despite fears expressed over safety and education, Norfolk County Council deemed the route "safe to walk" prompting parents to walk from the Village Inn Pub at 8am to prove otherwise.

On the route, there is construction work which has sparked safety fears among parents. Picture: Ruth LawesOn the route, there is construction work which has sparked safety fears among parents. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Walk organiser Jessica Cole said the route is narrow, prone to flooding and involves a half-mile stretch on Burnthouse Lane which is unlit and unpaved.

The 41-year-old said: "It is dangerous. I am happy to pay to get my children to school safely because a child could be killed in a serious accident."

Anna Lartey, 46, and her daughter Erin, 11, say walking to school twice a week with a cello is unmanagabely heavy. Picture: Ruth LawesAnna Lartey, 46, and her daughter Erin, 11, say walking to school twice a week with a cello is unmanagabely heavy. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Alison Walker, 45, fears her 15-year-old daughter will miss early morning and after school revision clubs during GCSE preperation.

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She said: "It is just too dark. I wouldn't walk it, let alone as a teenager. Plus the time it takes is eating out of valuable revision time." Both Anna Lartey, 46, and her husband work at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and, due to their demanding work schedules, are unable to pick up their two daughters from school.

She said: "I don't have family to rely on and we can't just leave our jobs on the dot. It has added immense pressure."

Parents are concerned about the risk of flooding on the route to Hethersett Academy. Picture: Ruth LawesParents are concerned about the risk of flooding on the route to Hethersett Academy. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Without a means of transportation, Mrs Lartey is considering reducing her hours or working part-time if her employers agree.

She added: "I would be really sad. I have worked at the NHS for over 20 years."

The walk from Little Melton to Hethersett Academy takes about 40 minutes, and there is no pavement on a large chunk of the route. Picture: Ruth LawesThe walk from Little Melton to Hethersett Academy takes about 40 minutes, and there is no pavement on a large chunk of the route. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Her daughter Erin, 11, said: "I don't want to have to walk two days a week with my cello. I am worried as my bags are so heavy."

An Inspiration Trust spokesman said: "We are pleased Norfolk County Council is reassessing the route. A workable and safe way forward needs to be found as soon as possible."

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: "Following Hethersett Academy's decision to end home to school transport from Little Melton, we are carrying out a reassessment of the walking route to ensure it continues to meet national road safety guidelines. The result of the assessment will be shared with parents when it has been completed."

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