Parents petition for change to school transport

Parents of children in Long Ashton are asking for school transport to Backwell to be subsidised rath

Parents of children in Long Ashton are asking for school transport to Backwell to be subsidised rather than Pill. - Credit: Archant

Disgruntled parents from Long Ashton are calling for North Somerset Council to subsidise school transport costs to Backwell.

The authority currently subsidises travel costs for Long Ashton pupils to attend St Katherine’s in Pill but parents claim nobody from the village goes there.

Families who choose to send their children to Backwell School are left with a bill of £510 per year for each child.

Tamar Sutton, whose son Theo is due to start in September, said: “A lot of people in Long Ashton feel they are being penalised.

“St Katherine’s School is officially our catchment school and the council pays for transport to it, but nobody can remember anyone from Long Ashton going to Pill.

“We chose Backwell because it’s the easiest and most direct school to get to and it’s actually our closest school.

“Secondly, Long Ashton is clearly linked to Flax Bourton and Backwell, not just geographically, but also in terms of our communities in a way that Long Ashton and Pill are not – it makes no sense to link us with Pill.

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“Backwell seems the best fit for our child in terms of the focus of the school and clearly most parents in Long Ashton feel the same way.

“Backwell and Nailsea schools make a lot of effort to attract children from Long Ashton whereas St Katherine’s are clearly focusing elsewhere.

“The council needs to either get rid of this idea of first geographical preference or redefine them in the light of reality.

“Clearly they are not paying for transport for the vast majority of the children in Long Ashton because nobody is going to St Katherine’s.

“My son’s entire class at Birdwell Primary School are going to Backwell, bar two or three who are going to Nailsea. The situation is the same at Northleaze as far as we are aware.

“In theory I could drive, but the council is desperately trying to discourage people from driving and it’s an absolute nightmare in the morning with heavily congested roads.

“They say parents have a choice of where we send our children, but if you don’t choose the school the council decides is appropriate we are penalised.”

North Somerset Council’s policy is to provide free school transport to children aged eight and over who live further than three miles from their nearest appropriate school.

A council spokesman said: “

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