LAWS WELCOMES COUNTY RETHINK OVER FREE BUS ROUTE FOR MERRIOTT CHILDREN.
Tuesday 5th July 2011
David Laws, MP for Yeovil Constituency, has today welcomed the news that Somerset County Council has withdrawn its decision to axe free transport for children from Merriott who are due to attend schools in Crewkerne from this September. The new proposed walking route into Crewkerne from Merriott has been scrapped following representations from David Laws MP, South Somerset District Councillor Paul Maxwell and local parents. In a letter to Mr Laws, Somerset County Council’s Chief Executive, Shelia Wheeler, outlines that “free transport will continue to be provided for all children travelling from Merriott to Crewkerne schools for the first term of the new academic year.” The Council will then review the old route into Crewkerne to see if this is now safe to walk.
The route from Merriott to Crewkerne is just inside the 3 mile limit for free transport, but free transport has been granted in the past as the local roads were considered too unsafe for children to walk to school. However, Somerset County Council conducted a reassessment of this route last month, with County Council officers suggesting that the children would not be at risk walking to school down the busy A356 route. Immediately a number of parents contacted David Laws to complain about both the change in plan and the danger of the newly proposed route.
Campaigning alongside parents and Councillor Paul Maxwell, David Laws requested that a further detailed route assessment was carried out by the County Council Road Safety Officers. On Friday 1 July a detailed report of the proposed new route confirmed local parent’s fears that the proposed new route was indeed not safe.
The news will come as a temporary relief to worried parents but in Ms Wheeler’s letter it is made clear that a further assessment of the existing route will be undertaken once ongoing gas works are completed along the section of the A356 that encompasses the existing route. Since the declassification of this section of the A356 to ‘B’ status, the County Council feels that the existing route “may not currently present the same degree of risk.” However, David Laws and Paul Maxwell remain of the view that even the old route is unsafe for children to walk and therefore they will continue to press for free transport to remain.
David Laws MP:
“I welcome the decision by The County Council to rethink its plans to axe the free bus travel for children from Merriott who need to get into school in Crewkerne. The new proposed route was clearly not safe – as parents and local Councillor Paul Maxwell made very clear to me.
“The County Council is now suggesting that children might in the future be able to walk along the exact route that has been deemed unsuitable since 2000. In my view, that route remains unsafe for children, and Councillor Paul Maxwell and I will continue to press for the free transport to be restored on a permanent basis.”
Category: Constituency News