to be furious with the council re school run....need support!

(37 Posts)
5madthings Wed 22-Jan-14 20:58:46

Basically, I along with many others use a 'cut through' to get my children to school, this cut through has been used for over 30yrs.

It is through a gate that takes us down the side of a golf club car park. There has been an arrangement with the high school and the primary school and the council that parents and pupils can use this gate to get to either school.

It is basically a safe walking route, over a field and avoiding a busy A road and several other busy roads. It also makes the walk a reasonable distance ie a half hour walk, rather than a 50min walk if we can't use the cut through.

It came to our attention before Christmas that there were rumours it was going to be closed. We tried to email/phone/speak to the council and the golf club but got no reply.

The rumours were quickly revealed to be true when we got told the gate is closing as of Feb half term.

Agfain we tried to contact the parties involved to not avail.

So a few of us got together and decided to do a petition, contact local MPs, councilors etc, basically to shout loudly!

We even asked a question at local city cabinet meeting and with over 600signatures on our petition and over 500 likes on our fb we were getting heard, local papers and radio asked to speak to us and low and behold the council and the golf club have agreed to meet BUT they have arranged the meeting without trying to ask us what would be doable and have arranged it for school run time!!!! And having agreed a venue, they today changed the venue if the meeting to one awkward to get to and with parking issues and meaning we need childcare for a longer period of time.

Again they have not responded to calls or emails so we could talk about this.

Its bloody infuriating! They have realized local opinion is such that they have to at least look like they are listening but the reality is that it seems like a facade, just making minimal effort and they aren't going to do anything.

The reality is there is lots going on behind closed door, including issues over land ownership and liability and we as parents and our children are the victims!!

https://www.facebook.com/soschoolrun

So aibu to be furious, my children and 150 others will end up with a long and dangerous walk to school. Yet the council actually dont give a shit,

On our fb page there is a map showing the current walk and the route the council wants us to take instead. There is also an repetition if you want to help us shout loudly, or just like the fb page.

The whole situation is crazy, parking and congestion is already terrible around both schools, closing this safe walking route is going to make the situation worse!

The irony is they are saying they are closing the gatedue to safety issues as cut down the side of a car park... The alternative route has no pavement for part of it, a blind corner, takes up a rat run road and then along a very busy a road where the pavement is a cycle path!!!

This situation could be resolved, speed bumps before the golf club car park, hatched pavement, small fenced off pavement or just a sign telling drivers to slow down if they think its dangerous but thats not the real issue its all internal politics, land ownership and money

We even offered a walking school bus and parent patrols etc.

I have used this gate every school run for the last eight years, its perfectly safe!!

Sorry that was long but I have spent the last few weeks on phones, email, fb, talking to press and councilors and I am beyond pissed off with how difficult the council are being, seriously how hard is it to answer the phone or reply to an email?!!

5madthings Fri 24-Jan-14 21:18:59

Just to update the council ans the golf club have agreed to build a path!

In the mea time we are to arrange a walking school bus, but a resoundign success!

The moral it seems is to shout and shout loud so the council cant ignore you, they praised our campaign and the fb page and had clearly underestimated public feeling on the issue.

And now I am having a much needed drink!

honestpointofview Thu 23-Jan-14 19:45:46

evening to you 5mad and Atomic

By now i promise legal will be involved trying to work on a solution. Just a couple of quick pointers and some suggestions

How much extra you will have to walk will be important to how much you can prove to Councillors that a solution is necessary.
How much extra you will have to walk will not make any difference to the legalities.

1. The Councils insurance company may not cover any liability of any accidents (and I really doubt that will as the car park is not owned by them nor is it "their activity" so legally they no interest in the matter. I mean legal interest.)
2. Instead the CC may have to consider self insurance/underwriting the risk which could be huge. One child getting knocked down and requiring care for life will cost tens of millions.
3. Two things that means;

A. They will have to consider whether they have the power (vires) to do so. Councils have to a legal power for everything they do. Ask they either to consider using s111 Local Government Act 1972 which allows them to do something which is conducive to discharging their functions. The function in this case is schooling. That is a little tenuous so ask them to consider in the alternative using their general power of competence under Part 1 of the Localism Act 2011. This gives them the power to do anything that a member of public could do. You would argue that a member of the public (with enough) money could underwrite any risk of a claim.

B. They will have to consider how to minimise the risk. As well as putting up signs is there anything else you can suggest that would help?Maybe have a coned off area I know you have suggested walking bus and parent patrols. With these two can you come up with a plan to show how it will always be covered. Could you show a rota for the next year? Take into account what happens if the parent is sick, on holiday, their child is sick or simply does not turn up. Show that you have covered maybe by there always being two parents etc. For the walking bus how will you deal with children that are late. Can the gate be closed at a certain time so if children turn up then they have to go the long route. What about children leaving late how will that be covered.

If you can think of these things and produce a plan that would go a long way to showing it is a low risk. You might even be able to persuade the Golf club on their own (without CC) to keep the gates open.

atomicyoghurt Thu 23-Jan-14 13:16:21

Just to say I am also affected by this, and the council (by which I mean councillors) have been really obstuctive and unhelpful. They say one thing to our faces, but another to the press and another to the club.

The beaurocrats are very helpful!

It's really telling that they arrange a meeting to talk about a difficult school run during school run time.

To pick up your point, doily, I think the county council are doing this willy nilly actually. I don't think there's been any legals involved and it's been just one guy in a room who's had a letter from the golf club and said 'ok then'. The reason I think this is that no-one (repeat, NO-ONE) else in the city or county council knew this was happening until we received a leaked email from the golf club and started kicking up a fuss.

For the first week no-one would help us becuase 'the guy dealing with it' was away.

The only reason councillors started getting involved is because we were in the local press and the regional BBC. Suddenly they started trying to be helpful.

We are trying to keep the tone of the FB page very firm but fair but really our blood is boiling at this! The blimmin' golf club manager's kids used this route and he never closed it until his kids were out of school!!

5madthings Thu 23-Jan-14 10:11:12

Two of is have sorted childcare and are going to the meeting, it's all getting more co plicated as the other route they want us to us, still going via high school field takes us out another gate...and up a residential street amd those residents don't want that gate to be used, they complained about hearing the teenagers swearing...

The irony is those wanting the gates closed used the gates themselves and so did their children!

5madthings Thu 23-Jan-14 10:07:50

The field belong to high school so oy is used by access by their kids and kids going to frommthe primary, but the car park belongs to golf club.

Both schools want to keep gate open bit they have been told not to say anything publicly, they can't go against county council.

Bit we have a nicely worded letter asking it clear the school supports the gate staying open and they always made that clear to county council.

The irony is today I have been provided with another route I can walk (I knew about it anyway) bit it takes a good hour! Is unlit and covers marshland, fine for a leisurely walk home in the summer, not at 8am in the winter when its dark amd as it's a marsh area when it rains it's ummm marshy! You cant push a pushchair along it in winter!

coco44 Thu 23-Jan-14 10:03:15

so who does this field belong to? confused

UriGeller Thu 23-Jan-14 10:00:04

Can you ask someone to be your representative at the meeting? Someone like the Head teacher or someone from the local paper or news?

Otherwise go to the meeting with your kids? As The issue directly affects their education perhaps the school would sanction an early finish? Get the school on your side.

Sunnymeg Thu 23-Jan-14 09:50:54

I echo what was said about contracting the Open Spaces Society. I would also find out if your council has a rights of way officer and if so ask them to visit the site and advise on the legalities of the situation.

DoilyDawg Wed 22-Jan-14 22:59:23

Can I just warn you that signatures not from the local area (and therefore not affected by this) probably won't be "counted" so to speak by the council.

I do sympathise completely that this is going to cause massive issues for parents if the route is closed, but totally agree with honestpointofview's very good points.

The council isn't doing this willy nilly, it's a legal issue and a decision will be made on a legal basis by the lawyers involved.

I really hope they can come to an agreement that keeps the route open for you though.

5madthings Wed 22-Jan-14 22:51:39

Thankyou to those who have signed the petition!

5madthings Wed 22-Jan-14 22:51:14

Tha

5madthings Wed 22-Jan-14 22:46:38

Yes I think it will make it more than two miles but they may just say there are other schools, we were in the very fortunate position of a few local schools having places, my eldest son is 14 so have been at this primary a few years, other kids are 11,9, 5 and 3..,

Not sure if other schools now have places, could they say we just have to move schools? One if our reasons for choosing the school was the nice, safe walk!

Thanks heart will look into that.

And yes they will make decisions without us but so much they dont think about.

Ie currently high school finish five mins before primary, several older pupils then go through cut through to primary and collect younger siblings as parents at work.

We have been told the entrance is used as an entry point to measure catchment...high school very oversubscribed, so distance important.

Plus council and golf club kept trying to say it was onlynan extra 50yards...its an extra km and a bit!

http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/Travel_and_transport/Travelling_to_school_or_college/School_transport/Eligibility_for_free_transport/index.htm

5mad, this is a bit left-field, but another angle to try - have you measured the distance of the new route? You said 50 minutes which would suggest over 2 miles

From Norfolk CC website - "children under 8 living more than 2 miles from school, measured by the nearest available walking route" will be allocated school transport

If your safe route is being closed for one without pavements then the cost of transport may be so onerous for the Council that they may put some pressure on re-instating the access.

heartonsleeve Wed 22-Jan-14 22:38:40

You need to speak to the Open Spaces Society. oss.org.uk Kate Ashbrook is the Boss and very knowledgeable on ROW issues. They will just ask you to join for a small fee as they are a charity. Tell them Ruth the old Office Manager put you in contact. Kate's email is hq@ web address above. Good luck.

honestpointofview Wed 22-Jan-14 22:38:10

I see what you mean about the meeting. If you can go, go. If not though I really would not worry. I can see you now reading this thinking is this man mad!! The answer is as you say things will happen behind closed doors. If they have asked the lawyers to look at the land issues and the indemnity around injuries then nothing you say at the meeting will make a difference. Either the lawyer for club and the lawyer for the CC can come to a legal solution that they are both happy to recommend to their clients or not.

All you need to do is make sure that the CC are clear that local's want it to happen which will encourage them to look for a solution and maybe take some risk. You are have already done that very well.

Does that make sense?

5madthings Wed 22-Jan-14 22:27:37

We want to speak to them about the meeting, to try and get it moved an hour earlier..but they won't respond to calls.

5madthings Wed 22-Jan-14 22:26:35

I can't leave it till next week, they have arranged a meeting that we are supposed to attend but they have arranged it for school run time! Its great they have arranged it but to change the location two days before the meeting to across the city when several of us have babies/toddlers needing looked after and older kids to puck up from school makes it impossible!

We have also requested travel plans from schools, one has been fine, the other is being obstructive about giving it when it should be publically available on the website.

And when the councilor just says he is arranging it and clearly is speaking to the golf club but won't tell us until the last minute the venue and time of a meeting they want us to attend how am I not supposed to be annoyed.

honestpointofview Wed 22-Jan-14 22:21:35

Perfect 5mad, hopefully it will work out.

I know your are annoyed but if possible to try and avoid comments like the guy council is in cahoots with the club as he is a member. I am not sure how he would benefit and in the absence of proof it will only make relationships harder at the very least.

Re calls and emails agree should be returned but just remember if you are having meetings then probably people are dealing with it. Complicated issues can not just be dealt with overnight and people working on it will have other issues as part of their job as well. So whilst i really understand why it is important and the main thing to do maybe just leave it for a few days, let them work on a solution and then give a call say Tuesday next week. If this helps look at this way; all the time they spend returning all your calls, emails, responding to press questions, Councillors questions, etc means they have less time to deal with the actual issue.

5madthings Wed 22-Jan-14 22:18:36

To clarify I am annoyed at the council as they are the ones organizing the meeting, they said they would do it, won't let us be directly involved in organizing it and are not returning calls and emails and now have arranged it at a time and location that is completely crap for us and given us less than 48hrs notice!!

5madthings Wed 22-Jan-14 22:09:42

Thats what we are doing, sticking to that tone.

I am using mnet to rant as the council are being so bloody difficult to talk to and the guy at the council who is meant to be helping is a member of the golf club and has been in cahoots with the manager of the golf club.

As I said lots being done behind closed doors and they are giving us the run around.

Why arrange a meeting with parents at school run time over the other side of the city.,.either they are just stupid or they just haven't thought.

The cpuncillor has been seen by me and other parents with golf club manager...lots of long meetings..

Why not return phone calls, answer emails?!

Nerfmother Wed 22-Jan-14 22:07:31

Yes good luck, it is really worrying.

honestpointofview Wed 22-Jan-14 22:05:29

Good Evening 5mad.

I think YABU, well a little and for understandable reasons.

Looking at your FB page and the links on it the issue was not caused by the CC and they are working to solve it. As a lawyer it does not look straightforward (as you also say) and in fact is complicated with land issues and indemnities. Hence why I think you are being just a little unreasonable in saying you are furious with the Council.

I think your FB page sets the right tone and my only suggestion is you stick to that tack. Usually to get parties to do something they probably do not have to do playing nice, albeit firm, usually works better than berating people. The FB gets that spot on.

Good Luck!

5madthings Wed 22-Jan-14 21:54:58

Its shut during school holidays, there did used to be a sign saying it was a public footpath/route but that miraculously disappeared the day its closure was announced....

Its known by everyone and has been used as a school run routevans by dog walkers for years.

MisForMumNotMaid Wed 22-Jan-14 21:48:18

From this article If the public use a path for 20 years without interruption or challenge a right of way is presumed to have been dedicated

Are there any signs up saying that the path through the golf course is not a dedicated right of way or do they close it and stop access at certain times of the year?

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