Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Following a meeting with local Parish Councillors, Tony Bull and Jill Barnes, Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has urged the County Council to think again about withdrawing free transport for Redbourn pupils gong to Roundwood School.

    The problem has arisen because the County Council agreed in response to pressure from Redbourn pupils to designate the Nicky Line as a route when calculating the distance between Redbourn and Roundwood School. This has the effect of making Roundwood Park the closest school to Redbourn – so ensuring that Redbourn children are allocated places there instead of being sent to Astley Cooper in Hemel Hempstead.

    However, County Council officials are now saying that the distance between Redbourn and Roundwood via the Nicky Line is less than 3 miles so that future Redbourn pupils will not receive free transport.

    However, Peter Lilley has pointed out that the transport rules are quite separate from the rules governing the allocation of school places. Moreover the transport rules say that free transport can be provided to schools nearer than three miles away if children could not walk the route “with reasonable safety?. Redbourn parents are concerned that it will not be safe in winter for children to walk or cycle down the Nicky Line in the dark.

    Peter Lilley added: “There is already a precedent for retaining free transport when the shortest designated route is less than three miles but is not safe for unaccompanied children. The County Council agreed in the case of Wheathampstead that it would not be reasonable for children to cycle along main roads ? including the Lower Luton Road ? between Wheathampstead and Harpenden in the rush hour. So they reinstated the free school bus even though the distance is less than 3 miles. I urge them to do the same for Redbourn children.?