At an independent tribunal at County Hall in Taunton on Friday (31st March) a group of parents from North Petherton were successful in their appeal against Somerset County Council's decision to end their children's entitlement to a free school bus to Blake Science College.
The Council had decided to cut the transport on the basis that the children lived within 3 miles of the school and it was deemed safe for them to walk through North Petherton, along the path beside the A38 to Bridgwater and then cross the Huntworth Roundabout.
The parents objected on the basis that it was not a safe route with various hazards, including crossing the A38 in North Petherton at a very busy spot and the Huntworth Roundabout, which is also very busy, close to the motorway and used by a significant number of lorries and other large vehicles. They also felt that the complete absence of any crossing lights or other safety features to help the children cross the roundabout safely was ignored by the Council.
After listening carefully to both sides of the argument during a two hour hearing the Independent Tribunal agreed with the parents and decided that the bus service for the children will continue. The parents objections were presented by barrister Edd Hetherington from Albion Chambers who represented them voluntarily.
On behalf of the Parents of North Petherton Helen Warren said: "We are very grateful to our local Town Council, including Mayor Alan Bradford, two local Councillors Bill Revans and Richard Brown and to the Headteachers of Robert Blake and North Petherton Community Primary School, who all supported our appeals.
"We put a great deal of time and work into collecting our arguments together and supporting each other through the difficult appeals process. We now hope that Somerset County Council adopt a more realistic approach to child safety in future and do not try to save money in ways which expose young people to enormous risk."
Councillor Bill Revans added: "It's fabulous news. The parents worked hard for their victory, providing lots of evidence of how unsafe the road is, especially at the Huntworth roundabout. It was great to have all local councillors working together to back the parentsí campaign too. I was proud to march with the children and parents and delighted to advise on their appeal. Local Barrister Edd Hetherington was an amazing advocate on their behalf. It's a victory for common sense!"
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