Petherton Parents Big Walk to Protest County ‘Safe Route’

Friday, 3 March 2017
Jane Grenfell supporting the Parents and students ‘safe routes’ demo

A protest march took place on Thursday (2nd March 2017) morning as parens and students from North Petherton took part in a ‘Big Walk’ to oppose Somerset County Council plans to remove school transport. Following an assessment of the route from the town to Robert Blake Science College in Hamp as “safe” the County Council has withdrawn the free service book bus service. Labour County Candidates Jane Grenfell (North Petherton) and Chelsea Chadwick (Huntspill) joined them and experienced at first hand how UNsafe the route actually is.

Jane said “Narrow pavements, a lack of safe crossing points, huge lorries thundering past and crossing the Huntworth Junction 24 roundabout, just to mention a few of the hazards. It is unacceptable that parents are confronted with the choice of paying almost £700 in fares or allowing their children to walk on a route that is clearly unsafe. The route takes almost an hour. Surely we want our children!Seen to arrive at school ready to learn, not tired from a 3 mile walk or worse injured .This is the result of Tory austerity – right here in North Petherton – an ideological choice that is prepared to put our children at risk.”

Free Bus to end at Easter

Although the council have deemed that this route is safe enough for children to walk, angered parents feel that the A38 is far from safe and have been campaigning for the council to continue the bus service. The Big Walk left at 7.30am from Newton Road, North Petherton – where the children would usually catch the bus – and made the three-mile walk via the A38 before going along the cycle path heading to Robert Blake School. 

The free bus service is expected to end at Easter 2017 but after a string of recent accidents, and no puffin crossing at the intersection at the A38 roundabout, the parents question the safety of this route.

Absurd Council

Chelsea  said “The crossing the children are expected to use is totally unsuitable and it is absurd the council believe this is fit for purpose. Accidents happen on this roundabout on a regular basis, and it is difficult for anyone crossing the roundabout at this section to tell when it is safe to cross – even more so when motorists change lanes unexpectedly or do not use indicators.”

Pictures from the ‘safe walk’