St Athan residents are being asked to put their children in danger or face paying punitive school bus charges.
Many St Athan-based parents of children attending Llantwit Major Comprehensive School have been told by the Vale Council that they no longer qualify for free or reduced school bus fares following a recent review. They are being asked to pay £2 per-day to use school bus, a 150% increase on their usual 80p fare if they fall within the statutory three-mile ‘walking distance’, an average bill of £40 per month. The route to the Llantwit School is currently considered ‘safe’ by the local authority despite parents’ claims to the contrary.
Residents of the Eglwys Brewis Estate in St Athan, just within the three mile limit, have reacted with anger, asking the Council to undertake further risk assessment of the route. They point to the fact that more than three-quarters of the route is narrow, unlit and without pedestrian walkways. Indeed, one of the local PCSOs has informed residents that Police Officers have been told not to walk the road for their own safety.
After meeting with parents on Saturday, and walking part of the route himself, Vale MP Alun Cairns said, “Eglwys Brewis road has long been considered too unsafe to walk along by local people, drivers do not expect to see pedestrians using it. It is prone to flooding, with blind bends and few areas where it is possible to escape oncoming traffic. No parent would be comfortable with their child walking along this road on a daily basis, especially on dark winter mornings.
“I am disappointed that parents have effectively been told to put their children at risk or pay up.
“Local people have asked that another risk assessment be undertaken, and I am hopeful that common sense will prevail. Exceptions must be made in the school bus pricing structure for parents in areas such as Eglwys Brewis, who fall within a three-mile radius but whose children’s route to school would be perilous.
"No parent would be comfortable with their child walking along this road on a daily basis. I'm looking to work with the Council, parents and school Governors to stop pupils in the Eglwys Brewis area risking their lives on their way to school.”