Cornwall Council is seeking the views of parents and carers about possible changes to 16 Council-funded travel-to-education routes.
These are routes that have previously been assessed as being ‘suitable to walk’ following completion of Pedestrian Route Assessments (PRA) but for which free transport is still being provided.
Assessments are carried out in accordance with the council’s PRA Policy, which follows the national Road Safety GB guidelines and the relevant case law.
A route is ‘suitable to walk’ if it is determined that it could be used safely by pedestrians, whilst acknowledging that children may need to be accompanied.
It is the responsibility of parents and carers to ensure that their child travels safely to and from school if they do not qualify for travel assistance.
The council is now reviewing the relevant PRAs – especially those that may not have been carried out recently - and if they are still considered suitable then new applications for travel assistance on these routes will not be approved from September 2024.
The move could mean more opportunities for children to walk or cycle to school, which would benefit both their health and the environment, but ultimately it is up to parents and carers to decide how their child should travel between home and school.
The routes relate to the following schools: Sir James Smiths; Bugle CP; Brannel; Launceston College; Mount Hawke Academy; Mullion; Liskeard; Liskeard Hillfort; Poltair; Landulph; Cape Cornwall; and Wadebridge.
Any changes would not come into effect until September 2024 and travel assistance will remain in place for those who currently receive it or are due to receive it from September 2023 until the agreed end date.
The council is keen to understand the impact this could have on families, schools and traffic so parents and carers are being urged to have their say on the Let’s Talk Cornwall website where a full list of the affected routes can also be found.
The period of public engagement began on August 10 and is due to end on September 30. Before implementing the changes, the council will look at the survey results to understand how those who use the routes might be affected. Families and schools will then be advised of the outcome and the next steps involved to make the changes in time for September 2024.
Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, portfolio holder for children and families, said:
“This won’t have an impact on current students receiving transport support for the 16 routes, but we will have to consider whether continuing to accept new funding applications is justified.
“Before we make any decisions, we want to find out more about current usage on these routes, views on potential alternatives and the impact any changes might have on pupils, families and traffic.”
She added: “It is important that young people can travel to their education safely which is why it is right that councils offer travel assistance to children that need it or qualify for support.
“However, with the current financial pressures we have to look at offers of travel assistance in cases where we are not legally required to provide support.”
The council has a legal duty to provide travel assistance to children who live within statutory walking distance of their nearest suitable school, but who cannot reasonably be expected to walk because the route is deemed unsuitable. That statutory distance is two miles for children up to the end of Year 3, and three miles for children from Year 4 onwards.
Whether a route is ‘suitable to walk’ is determined via PRAs which are regularly reviewed including to reflect new infrastructure changes such as footpaths, bridges and zebra crossings.
For more information about eligibility and travel assistance available please see the Council’s Home to School Travel Assistance Policy
Press release issued on August 10, 2023.