CONTROVERSIAL plans which could put children on their way to and from primary school in danger have been recommended for approval by council officers.
Earlier this year Solihull Council held 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 Augustine’s Catholic Primary School could face the axe if the Children’s Education and Skills committee agree with the officer’s recommendations at a meeting tonight (Wednesday).
The public consultation saw 91 responses, with 84 against the proposals and a petition with 138 signatures was handed to the Council.
Concerns raised in the consultation included an increase in traffic and parking issues around the schools, additional childcare costs and a suggestion for the Council to use smaller vehicles than the coaches currently used.
In documents released by the Council ahead of the meeting it suggests alternatives to Council-funded buses are to walk to school, use public transport or car sharing.
However, these have been slammed by parents and campaigners fighting to keep the Meriden School service, including Lorna Edwards, who says the alternatives were not realistic for working parents and the walk from Millisons Wood is dangerous and busy.
She added: “If the recommendation to cease the school bus is upheld it will clearly demonstrate the Council putting austerity before public safety.
“None of the other parents I have spoken to will be walking or using the public bus, everyone will be driving therefore increasing the problem of congestion outside the school.”
The bus from Millisons 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 May by a Road Safety Auditor, the route has been deemed as a “non-hazardous walking route” despite a number of issues raised in the report, including a lack of street lighting.
The report highlights that along the route, which takes walkers along Birmingham Road, Leys Lane and Fillongley Road, there is overgrown shrubbery, poor or no street lighting and the hill between Leys Lane and Fillongley Road exceeds the maximum recommended for the average person to walk up comfortably.
To overcome the lighting issues the report suggests adults and pupils can carry torches and wear high-visibility clothing and those unable to walk up the hill can apply for travel assistance.
The report also states a request has been put to the Council for work to be carried out on the overgrown shrubbery.
Lorna said: “The recommendation that we ‘proceed with due care’ and carry a torch is flippant and shows complete contempt for the safety of our children.
“I have walked both the original route (up Fillongley Road from the Green) and the proposed route along Leys Lane and a parent would have to put aside three hours per day to do this.
“It is clear that the report is not considering working parents.”
The other route cited in report, along Birmingham Road, Main Road (Meriden) and Fillongley Road, saw issues with the visibility at
the crossing point on the Birmingham Road at Old Birmingham Road.
This route was disregarded as it is over two miles – which is the statutory walking distance children up to the age of eight should walk to school.