A mum has made a shocking video of the muddy three-mile walk that council officials expect her nine-year-old daughter to take to her primary school.
Julie Hewitt claims she is entitled to a subsidy for her petrol money to drive daughter Connie to school because they live more than three miles away.
But a cost-cutting council has insisted there is a shorter cross-country route measuring 2.7 miles that the youngster can walk.
Angry Julie, 39, appealed against the refusal by filming the mud-clogged ‘short cut’ which runs past a dairy farm and along overgrown lanes.
It has just four street lights and she said it was too dangerous and challenging for her daughter who suffers from asthma.
Julie, a mum-of-four who works full-time running her own family farm, posted her video of the walk on Facebook in a bid to change the council’s mind.
For past 10 years, she has received £3.50 per day to drive her children to the primary school.
But Cornwall Council has now told her that she isn’t entitled to any more transport money and that Connie can still walk to St Wenn primary near Bodmin, Cornwall.
Julie said: “In the summer Cornwall Council wrote to say that the small contribution we claim for fuel allowance to take Connie to school will stop.
“From now on over eight year olds are expected to walk up to three miles to school.
“I appealed saying that we are 3.1 miles to school. Their response was a cross country map using country roads and footpaths that is a 2.7 mile alternative.
“The route is deemed suitable, so she is expected to walk 5.4 miles to and from school as a round trip.
“Don’t get me wrong, I am all for exercise, however, Cornwall Council are expecting her to be accompanied and I work full time.”
Julie, married to David, 44, also has three sons Harry, 14, Daniel, 13, and Joe, 11, who get a free bus to their secondary school which is further away.
She reckons her only option was to drive Connie to school when possible – and to appeal the council’s decision to the ombudsman.
“I am very disappointed by the decision,” she added.
“It is just not reasonable to ask a nine-year-old to walk to school through that and it is not safe in the wind and rain. It was dark.
“We would have to leave at 7.20am in the pitch black and come back in the dark.
“There are only four street lights the whole route.
“She also has asthma. They are asking doctors to issue a letter to say how many miles she can walk.
“Sometimes she can not walk across the room when she is affected. So to ask her to do 27 miles a week on a slow and cumbersome trail is ridiculous.”
Julie said the route was picked without anyone from the council actually assessing it and she has now arranged for her local MP Steve Double to walk it with her in the New Year.
She added: “We are over three miles to drive but the council looked on the map and said ‘you can cut through here and there’ and we were just under three miles.
“They picked the route without looking at it and assessing.
“A lot of it is on the road but about a mile is on the footpath.
“I drive her now but I am a farmer and work full time. I can not take five hours out of my day to walk her to school.
“What if I was pregnant and had a pushchair.
“There is no public transport in the whole parish so it is a crazy situation. They are taking a lead from London and trying to apply it to a rural area. It doesn’t work.
“I do not have the time or resources to walk her to school.
“I am in a fortunate position I do have a car. But what if I didn’t? How would I be able to cope?
“That is why this is an issue that urgently needs re-looking at.”
In explaining the reason for refusal in a letter, Helen Snell, the democratic services officer for Cornwall Council said: “Whilst the committee appreciate the reasons for your appeal, it did not consider that there were grounds which justified departing from the Council’s policy.
“In particular it was not considered that there were exceptional circumstances which warrant deviating from the council’s Home to School Transport policy and insufficient evidence to demonstrate that Connie is unable to walk to school by reason of her medical condition.”
Leave a Reply