Council slammed for method sued to deem school route safe - The Solihull Observer

Council slammed for method sued to deem school route safe

Sarah Mason 14th Apr, 2017   0

PARENTS have slammed Solihull Council after it was revealed a safety check for children who walk to Meriden Church of England School was carried out simply using Google maps and a drive along the route.

The Council is currently holding a public consultation to stop four primary school bus services (serving five schools) from July 25 in a bid to save cash.

Buses for Meriden Church of England School, St George and St Teresa Catholic Primary School, St Patricks Church of England School and St Alphege Church of England Junior School and St Augustines Catholic Primary School could face the axe.

The bus from Millison’s Wood to Meriden School was commissioned by Solihull Council when the nearby housing development was built and the route to school was deemed unsafe.




However, after a check carried out in January by the School Transport Team, the route has been declared safe pending further assessment by the Road Safety Team.

In emails leaked to The Observer it was unearthed the transport team followed the route along Meriden Hill online and a drove along the road before deeming it safe.


The leaked email states: “The transport team followed the route on Google maps, and drove the route on January 10.

“This confirmed to the transport team that there is a pavement along the entire route and there are crossing points at the school end of the route.

“This would normally mean that a route is available to be used with reasonable safety.”

However parents and campaigners have spoken out against this – saying that using Google Maps to justify the safety of the route is disgusting as the road is poorly lit, damaged in places, has problems with speeding cars and is often very slippery because of decaying vegetation.

Parent Lorna Edwards said: “I am absolutely disgusted that the Council’s School Transport Team would even consider using Google Maps in any way to justify the safety of this route for Primary School Children.

“This is clearly inappropriate and cannot take into account other factors.”

Lorna said her husband and seven-year-old son, who would have to use the route, walked from their home in Millison’s Wood to the Fillongley Road school on a sunny afternoon.

She added: “It took them over 45 minutes and our son was very tired as he had walked four miles.

“To walk to school (and arrive on time) it would take a parent approximately four hours for the round trip two times a day.”

If a parent were to walk they would be walking the route between 8am and 9am and 3.30pm and 4.30pm.

In the winter it would still be dark and this would be very unsafe.

Vicky Moore, parent of 7 year old and 4 year old said: “A four-mile round trip walk twice a day is unfeasible for a working parent.”

A Solihull Council spokesperson said: “On its inception the walking route to the school was deemed ‘unsafe’.

“The School Transport Team believe that this route is now safe and have asked the Road Safety team to carry out an up-to-date assessment of the safety of the route.

“Should the route be declared safe for walking this would significantly reduce the number of eligible children.”

ALTERNATIVES

There is a public bus pupils and parents could use the 82 and the X1, however the X1 does not stop in Millison’s Wood, but half a mile away from the current school bus collection point.

The public bus would run the risk of children either getting to school before the gates open at 8.45am or being late if the bus is delayed.

Some campaigners feel the only way they could get their children to school safely and on time would be to drive them – this would mean more cars on the road outside of the school.

However there are already concerns about inconsiderate parking – the Council teamed up with the Police and launched a campaign to stop parking on yellow lines, parking on pavements, blocking driveways, and parking on school keep clear zones.

The school has also been issuing notices in the newsletter asking parking to think about where they park.

Coun Rosie Weaver, chair of Meriden Parish Council, said: “It’s incredulous that Meriden has been targeted yet again for transport cutbacks – a contradiction in Solihull Council’s Draft Local Plan to ensure sustainable travel in the rural areas.

“Not only have the older and disabled people been affected with the removal of the Taxi Bus service, we are now faced with the cessation of an essential service to the families in Millison’s Wood to ensure the safe travel of their children to and from Meriden Primary School. ”

To have your say visit www.solihull.gov.uk/About-the-Council/Consultations/currentconsultations/ArtMID/9878/ArticleID/1632/Consultation-on-the-proposal-to-cease-four-school-bus-services or write to School Transport, Council House, Manor Square, Solihull B91 3QB by April 28.

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