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Kingswood parents raise petition about road safety concerns | #schoolsaftey

Image source, Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School

Image caption,

Most school buses are run by companies that choose their own routes

Three children have reportedly been “clipped” by vehicles in Kingswood, one suffering a fractured elbow.

The Kingswood Road Safety Group blames a convoy of school coaches and a pinch-point at Wotton Road on the way to Katharine Lady Berkeley (KLB) School.

On 13 September the group will present a petition to Gloucestershire County Council (GCC), asking for action to be taken to solve the issue.

The volume of traffic on the road means vehicles sometimes mount the kerb.

Sian Blackham, a local parent and a member of the campaign, said: “Our children must be safe walking to and from school. We need everyone to work together to find a solution that protects them.

“We cannot wait for a child to be killed for them to act.”

A spokesperson from GCC said: “We have listened to the concerns raised by local people. Officers with road-safety-audit experience have visited this area with the police.

“There is no record of casualties at this location so we are looking at low-cost measures to manage parking and help keep the road and junction clear. We will continue to work closely with Kingswood Parish Council, the local county councillor and residents.”

The school’s bus services are run by private companies Applegates and Euro Coaches.

They have been asked by the campaign to re-route around Kingswood.

A spokesperson for Applegates said: “We have routed buses other ways where possible. The issue is largely caused by overgrown footpaths, which locals could easily tidy up themselves.”

A spokesperson for the council said that the bus companies are acting within the law and that the council does not have the power to change their routes.

Euro Coaches did not respond to requests for comment.

Bus ticket prices

Since the pandemic, Applegates has changed the school service from pay-as-you-go, costing £4 a day, to an annual ticket for more than £900.

A spokesperson for Applegates said: “The cost of the ticket is very competitive. Our costs have gone up 40% [but] we have increased our prices by [only] 11%.

“The KLB routes are the cheapest routes we do.”

One parent at the school said: “I have two kids at the school and it is now simply too expensive to send them on the bus.

“You are forced to commit to the whole-year payment.

“But if one of my children has an after-school club, I am forced to collect them even though I am still paying for the bus.

“I am a single parent and I have to think about my job. If I get stuck at a meeting in London, my child can’t even go to the bus driver and beg to be allowed on.”

Another parent whose daughter attends KLB school in Year 7, said: “It’s a difficult enough cost to swallow, especially when you know the service is substandard.

“I’m a civil servant and I’m often in back-to-back meetings. It would be very difficult for me to run my daughter about every morning and evening, especially if I had a meeting in London, for example.”

A spokesperson for GCC said: “We spend almost £20m a year on school transport and this has gone up £2m this year alone.

“We fully understand the financial challenges that families are facing and how difficult it can be. The majority of school transport routes are provided by private companies and we have no influence over their prices.”

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