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'It's scary' - Children face 'dangerous' walk to school as bus axed

PUBLISHED: 11:15 19 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:52 19 November 2019

Hethersett Academy principal Gareth Stevens said the decision to axe the bus was

Hethersett Academy principal Gareth Stevens said the decision to axe the bus was "unfortunate". Photo: Archant

Archant

Parents said their children will face a dangerous walk to school when their village bus service is cut next year.

Part of the route suggested by Norfolk County Council, between Little Melton and Hethersett Academy. Photo: GooglePart of the route suggested by Norfolk County Council, between Little Melton and Hethersett Academy. Photo: Google

Hethersett Academy announced last week that it would no longer run a bus service between Little Melton and the school, leaving more than 30 children without transport next academic year.

The school declined to comment on the decision, but in an email sent to parents, principal Gareth Stevens said "regulation changes" meant the service required "immediate changes".

Following the announcement attention has turned to Norfolk County Council, with parents calling on it to provide a replacement service. The school has said it would "continue to press the local authority to reconsider its stance on providing transport for those in the village".

Currently, the council deems two routes between Little Melton and Hethersett Academy safe to walk or cycle, a judgement which parents have dubbed "insane".

Hethersett Academy students living in Little Melton will no longer have access to school transport. Photo: GoogleHethersett Academy students living in Little Melton will no longer have access to school transport. Photo: Google

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Alison Walker, who lives on Birch Close in Little Melton, has a daughter in year 10 at the academy and said the route was "incredibly dangerous" to walk along.

She said: "There is no path, no street lights, no verges. HGVs are not allowed through the village so they are all diverted down that road. They don't leave school until 3.50pm some days and it's really dark, so that's a big concern. I wouldn't want to walk it as an adult, and yet they're expecting kids to walk it. It's scary."

Although there is no direct public bus from Little Melton to Hethersett, it is possible to travel from the village to the hospital, and change to a different service which stops near the school.

But according to Ms Walker, the indirect route would add an extra 40 minutes to her daughter's travel time.

Following a number of complaints by parents, Norfolk County Council has agreed to reassess the route, although was unable to say exactly when this would happen.

A spokesman said: "Following Hethersett Academy's decision to end home to school transport from Little Melton, we have been asked by parents to reassess the walking route which we will do to ensure it continues to meet national road safety guidelines."

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