How do you get to school?

Apologies for being so quiet of late.  post came up on my Facebook timeline last week that says “Being an adult is basically saying ‘but after this week things will slow down a bit’ over and over again to yourself until you die.”  I posted that 2 years ago and it’s so true. 

So much has happened since I last published a blog post both personally and as a councillor.  And now we’re in the summer holidays with the children home for 7 weeks.  This blog post is a short one about something colleagues and I have been working on. 

Ian Shenton (one of my fellow Evendons ward councillors) and I have been contacted by numerous parents about the accessibility of secondary schools.  For children who live along the Finchampstead Road corridor, getting to school is a mission.  The pavements are narrow, there is no segregated cycling lanes and the road is a heavily used, polluted A road.  There is also inadequate bus provision for school children.  For children living in Evendons East and Wescott West who attend Emmbrook Senior school, they have to get to a bus stop in Finchampstead on Barkham Ride to board.  This is nowhere near where they live.  There is no bus route along Finchampstead Road for them.  We also understand that the school bus to St Crispins is often oversubscribed.

As more housing is built in the area, catchment areas for schools shrink, and now a considerable number of children in the area can’t get into their nearest schools.  There are still school places available, but the schools with places are further away from where those attending live, over 3 miles each way in some cases.  Without adequate walking and cycling infrastructure and bus provision, this leads to more children being driven to school in private cars which has a detrimental impact to congestion levels, air quality and the climate.  Safe, green transport options need to be readily available for our children and their absence is counter to the Council’s declared climate emergency.

The Council is working on it’s LCWIP (local cycling and walking infrastructure plan) which is a strategic project to improve provision in the borough.  The Finchampstead Road corridor has been identified as an area that needs vast improvement.  This won’t be done anytime soon however, and we will continue to work with officers to get the best provision we can for our community. 

For children going to school this September and onwards, we launched a petition as detailed below:

“We, the undersigned, petition the council to commission additional school bus transport for secondary school children living along the Finchampstead Road corridor, ensuring there is a school bus place for every child that wishes to have one.  The additional school bus transport will be routed along Finchampstead Road collecting and dropping off children who live in the vicinity.”

“Currently there is inadequate school bus provision along the Finchampstead Road corridor and poor walking and cycling facilities.  There is a bus to St Crispins but it may be oversubscribed, and children attending Emmbrook have to get to a bus stop in Finchampstead on Barkham Ride to board which is nowhere near where they live. Walking and cycling facilities are very poor with narrow pavements along heavily used A roads and no segregated cycle lanes. Safe, green transport options need to be readily available for our children and their absence will increase car use, with emissions growth counter to the Council’s declared climate emergency.”

Cllr Ian Shenton, Cllr Maria Gee and I spent several hours going door to door to gather signatures and collected 143.  We also have an online e-petition that can be found here  The online petition currently has 56 signatures, so we have 199 in total.  The petition is being presented to Full Council on Thursday and the e-petition will be closing down tomorrow (Wednesday 21st).  It would be great to get past 200 signatures, so if you live in Wokingham, please do sign.  Even if you don’t have school aged children, this affects the whole community. 

Thank you and fingers crossed! 

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