School bus row in Berrow

MICHELLE Wilkinson is angry with the lack of support being offered for her son.

MICHELLE Wilkinson is angry with the lack of support being offered for her son. Buy this photo

First published in News by

A BERROW mum has hit out at rules preventing her son from getting free bus travel to his new school because they live too near to it. 

Michelle Wilkinson, of Barton Road, says her son, who is due to start his first year at King Alfred School in September, has been denied free travel because Somer-set County Council says her family live within three miles of the school.

Michelle said: “We live in Berrow and have always been told we would get free bus transport from the council; however on ringing last month we were told that we are not eligible as we are outside of the three-mile radius. 

“We are apparently 2.944 miles away, according to the calculations by the council, but we have walked the route and measured it at 3.02 miles, 3.1 miles by AA route planner and 3.3 miles by car. 

“Our friends, who only live 30 yards from us, have been given a free bus pass for their child and our other neighbour’s children have also received free bus passes in the past. 

“The council expect our son to walk one hour each way, five days a week, in any weather condition and do not deem the road to be dangerous. 

“We do not agree as he has to cross 31 junctions, two garage forecourts and an extremely busy road at all times of the day. I’ve spoken to Berrow School, King Alfred and other parents in the area and they can’t understand or believe that they won’t support us.”

Michelle added: “We feel discriminated against as a working family. 

“If we gave up work and went on income support we would be entitled to a pass as the limit drops to a two-mile radius, which is totally unfair and unjust.

“It should be either two miles or three miles for everyone.”

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “We provide free school transport to children who attend their nearest or designated transport area school where that school is beyond the statutory walking distance of two miles for children under the age of eight and three miles for children aged eight and over. 

“Distances are measured with a high degree of accuracy to the point where the highway meets the school’s main entrance. 

 “If a parent or carer believes the route to school to be unsafe for a child to walk, accompanied as necessary, they can ask for the route to be assessed.

“If the route is deemed unsafe and the alternative route would be over three miles, free transport would be provided. Parents and carers are always informed of their right to appeal against any decision to refuse school transport.”

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