BIG RISK TO CHIL­DREN

Macclesfield Express - - YOUR VIEWS -

SAV­INGS PUT BE­FORE SAFETY

I AM writ­ing to ex­press my con­cern, dis­ap­point­ment and anger, at the Cheshire East Cab­i­net de­ci­sion to with­draw fund­ing for the school buses that cur­rently take chil­dren safely from Bolling­ton to Tyther­ing­ton High School each day.

These buses have his­tor­i­cally been pro­vided to pupils from age 11-16 years, as there is no safe walk­ing route to Tyther­ing­ton High School from Bolling­ton.

Pupils at­tempt­ing to travel to school on foot would have to ei­ther walk 2.9 miles along the Mid­dle­wood Way, an iso­lated, lin­ear, re-com­mis­sioned rail­way line with 30-foot banks ei­ther side, poor light­ing, and no ac­cess for emer­gency ve­hi­cles along the sec­tion that pupils would need to walk; or cross the Silk Road – a busy dual car­riage­way with a 70mph speed limit and no con­trolled cross­ing point.

The de­ci­sion to re­move the fund­ing has been up­held by Cheshire East Councl’s Cab­i­net mem­bers de­spite rec­om­men­da­tions from their own Scru­tiny Com­mit­tee to make the Mid­dle­wood Way an un­avail­able walk­ing route for pupils due to con­cerns that the route can­not be made safe for twice-daily, year round use, by high school chil­dren.

Also, de­spite the con­cerns ex­pressed by the Suzy Lam­plugh Trust, a na­tional safety char­ity who stated in a let­ter to par­ents: ‘The Trust feels strongly that forc­ing the pupils to take this route by with­draw­ing the school bus will put them at an un­ac­cept­able level of risk and think it wor­ry­ing that the Lo­cal Author­ity would put them in this po­si­tion.’ And de­spite the con­cerns of lo­cal MP’s David Rut­ley and Ed­ward Timp­son, bor­ough Coun­cil­lors and hun­dreds of fam­i­lies.

Cheshire East Coun­cil Di­rec­tor of Chil­dren’s Ser­vices, Kath O’Dwyer, main­tains that the lo­cal author­ity do not have to take child safety into con­sid­er­a­tion, as their pol­icy states that it’s a par­ent’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to get their child to school safely, com­pletely ig­nor­ing up-to-date statu­tory guid­ance from cen­tral govern­ment that says that lo­cal author­i­ties school take into ac­count whether it’s rea­son­able for a child to be ac­com­pa­nied by a par­ent.

Coun­cil­lors, par­ents and Tyther­ing­ton High School head­teacher, all ar­gue that it is not rea­son­able for par­ents to take 4 hours out of their work­ing day to walk along the Mid­dle­wood Way and back, and equally, it is not rea­son­able for chil­dren mov­ing to­wards in­de­pen­dence, to have to walk to school with a par­ent, and fi­nally that par­ent or none, if some­one has an accident on the Mid­dle­wood Way, there is no emer­gency ve­hi­cle ac­cess onto the route, and lo­cat­ing some­one re­quir­ing treat­ment is no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult.

Put sim­ply, even if a child is ac­com­pa­nied, if they suf­fer a Di­a­betic hypo; are stung and have Ana­phy­lac­tic Shock, slip on ice and have a spinal frac­ture; a par­ent, un­less a qual­i­fied medic, will be of no use in keep­ing that child safe.

Liz Durham, Con­ser­va­tive port­fo­lio holder for Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies, has gone on record to say that she wouldn’t al­low her chil­dren to walk along the Mid­dle­wood Way.

Tyther­ing­ton High School Head­teacher, Manny Botwe, Bolling­ton coun­cilors, and par­ents, are con­tin­u­ing to work to have this dread­ful de­ci­sion putting fi­nan­cial sav­ing be­fore the safety of chil­dren, over­turned. Heidi Reid Bolling­ton I WAS very dis­ap­pointed to learn that Jon We­ston has re­signed as a Cheshire East coun­cil­lor be­cause of the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to stop the school bus ser­vice for Bolling­ton chil­dren (mostly) go­ing to Tyther­ing­ton High School and ef­fec­tively putting the chil­dren in harm’s way by ei­ther cross­ing the Silk Road or risk­ing the long walk down Mid­dle­wood Way.

Jon re­placed me as one of the two coun­cil­lors rep­re­sent­ing Bolling­ton and knows that I had threat­ened to re­sign three years ago when this is­sue first arose.

Seem­ingly it was enough to stop the with­drawal of the bus then but Jon’s res­ig­na­tion has been ac­cepted and the cab­i­net has con­firmed the de­ci­sion.

If one makes a threat to re­sign and it does not do the trick one has to carry it out so Jon is to be ap­plauded for stick­ing to his guns on this mat­ter.

I hope even now the cab­i­net will re­alise the enor­mity of the risks they are cre­at­ing for Bolling­ton’s young­sters. Some un­doubt­edly will play “chicken” on the Silk Road .. but they could now..it is the Mid­dle­wood Way al­ter­na­tive which trou­bles me.

It is dark on a win­ter’s morn­ing and in the late af­ter­noon .. the two times of the day when school­child­ren would use it.

It is dark,very lit­tle light­ing is pro­vided and much of it is so far away from houses that a cry for help could eas­ily go un­heard. Emer­gency ve­hi­cles do not have ac­cess to it.

There are deep ditches of­ten full of water on ei­ther side into which a child could fall and...it is an ob­vi­ous place for those seek­ing to mo­lest chil­dren.

I would not al­low my grand­chil­dren to go that way on their own.

I hope every­one on the cab­i­net at Cheshire East who voted for the bus to be with­drawn will re­flect on their de­ci­sion and re­visit the mat­ter whilst there is still time. Peter Hayes Cheshire East coun­cil­lor for Bolling­ton 2011-2015

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