Glazier grilled in Rye Harbour

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At a packed and febrile Icklesham Parish Council meeting in Rye Harbour this week, County Councillor Keith Glazier was the subject of intense criticism for a decision by East Sussex County Council (ESCC), of which he is Leader, to scrap free bus travel for Rye Harbour children going to Rye Primary School in Rye. ESCC wants parents to pay £68 a term for each child. Councillor Glazier claimed that ESCC was simply following central government guidelines limiting free bus travel to journeys of more than three miles. Rye Primary School is about 2.6 miles from Rye Harbour.

Distraught parents, mainly the mothers of local school children, asked how many working families would be able to afford an extra £204 a year per child. They also argued forceably that the journey was unsafe, particularly for primary school children and especially in the winter. Google Maps estimates a walk from Rye Harbour to the primary school should take an adult 51 minutes. East Sussex has deemed the route to school to be safe as there are no “particular road safety hazards”. The personal safety of children is not considered, as it is assumed that children will accompanied by an adult. However, low income families can claim free travel for journeys of more than two miles.

When pressed by parents, a much-discomforted Councillor Glazier admitted that he would not want his grandchildren to walk this road to and from school. He promised to take residents’ concerns back to the County Council.

Rye Harbour Road does have a cycle path, installed by ESCC at a cost of several million pounds and over 11 years, following the death in 2004 of 22-year old local cyclist Graham Matthews in 2004. However, the cycle path ends well before the difficult approach to the A259(T) and is not a footway. Moreover, there are gaps in the proper footways, not least at the bends in the road near the A259(T). The journey to school also involves crossing the A259(T) at several points.

The central government guidelines referred to by Councillor Glazier state that County Councils have a statutory obligation to provide free transport to school to children aged over eight years who live more than three miles from school and to children aged under eight who live more than two miles away. However, County Councils are not prohibited from offering free or subsidised transport to those not automatically qualifying for free travel.

While Councillor Glazier took the flak from enraged and upset parents, one member of the public in attendance said, “There was a deafening silence from Icklesham Parish Councillors”. Yet Icklesham Parish Council could help. They currently donate £4,000 a year to Rye Community Transport, no strings attached.

Photo: ESCC

Image Credits: Rye News library .

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Just to correct the proposed fee is £63.25 per term (there are 6 terms) for the first child in a family and £44.44 per child for siblings. Payment in advance. This is £379.50 for one child between 8-11yrs and £646.14 if you have two family members on the school bus.

  2. David Martin–Sunningdale, Berkshire..

    Dear Richard,

    My daughter and her family, of Husband and three children, who live in Harbour Road, Rye, and who all attend Rye Primary, unsurprisingly have been hit by the details as itemised in your most eloquent article outlined above.

    As a very disgruntled Grand-Parent, I have also written to Keith Glazier and to date have only received an acknowledgement of my email.

    However, one salient fact which has come to my notice is to be found on a Department Of Education http://www.gov.uk doc , entitled ‘Home To School Travel and Transport Guidance’… A statutory guidance for local authorities.

    If you locate Part 4, clauses 51, 52 and 53, the information there is quite eye opening. Part 51 deals with local authorities requiring to publish their intentions. Part 52 deals with them having to give local residents 28 days to oppose any new intention regarding change of travel arrangements. And Part 53, clearly states that and changes are to be ‘phased in’ and only apply to new pupils joining the school, whilst existing pulls should remain under the regime they currently are undergoing.

    I think you’ll agree this is quite poignant since no warning has been given to any parents, merely a ‘fait accomplis’ letter stating the ESCC’s demands !

    Finally Richard, my congrats once again for championing the Harbour Road Parent’s cause and if you wish to see my initial letter to Keith Glazier, then let me know by return..

    Regards,

    David Martin

  3. Removal of this vital service by ESCC shows utter moral bankruptcy by our local government.

    ESCC sold the old Rye Middle School site for a seven figure sum to Sainsbury’s in 2010, money that is presumably sitting a bank account awaiting a rainy day.

    Well here’s an idea for the ever unpopular ESCC, why not ring-fence the capital raised and use the income it earns specifically for educational purposes in Rye?

    Some of the interest could and should be earmarked to pay for the free bus service for children to and from Rye Harbour.

  4. As vice chair of Rye community transport I will look into this matter and see if we have spare capacity to be able to offer a bus service to and from Rye harbour.

  5. I checked with Pat Hughes on Tuesday (following the council meeting), to see if there was any spare capacity for Rye community transport to help out the Rye Harbour parents but was advised that unfortunately there isn’t

  6. As Operations Manager of Rye & District Community Transport I discussed this with Steve Tollett ( Icklesham Parish councillor for Rye Harbour ward) as soon as the issue was raised with him by Rye Harbour parents. RDCT does not have the spare capacity to be able to offer a service for the Rye Harbour children as we send 3 buses (48 children) to/from Homewood school each day. Currently this takes 8 from Icklesham Parish including 5 from Rye Harbour. I also pointed out that any service has to be paid for, our Homewood transport costs around £10,000 per bus to run each year. This has all to be covered by fares paid by parents (as it is completely unsupported) and costs them £3.60 for every day that the children should be in school (i.e. the ‘seat’ is paid for whether the child attends or not). I estimated that a service for Rye Harbour children to/from Rye would cost a minimum of £1 per day and for us, considerably more. I understand from one of our drivers who has children that will come into this new charging that the figure she has been given equates to £1 per day, in line with my estimate, and, importantly, continuing on the bus services that they currently use.
    Icklesham Parish Council currently gives RDCT a grant of £4,000 annually. This is to support the Dial-a-Ride service which is also supported by East Sussex CC albeit at at reduced level following their review of supported bus services – £8,000 per year down from the previous £11,000. IPC committed to additional support for the D-a-R service because it recognised the importance of it continuing, the service supports those with mobility difficulties helping them to maintain independent living enabling them to access medical services and get shopping, attend clubs, meetings, etc etc.
    Transport in rural areas is expensive and RDCT tries to fill as many gaps as we can (as we do with providing very low cost transport for all the primary schools in our area, taking them to/from swimming, sports and other inter school events, trips and outings).

  7. Yet again, the people that can least afford are being penalised. My daughter lives in Rye Harbour and my granddaughters go to school in Rye. She’s a single parent and although works pretty much full time, finds it hard make ends meet.
    I think Councillor Glazier’s line that he’s following government policy is rubbish and he’s using this as an excuse. Who’s taken the time to measure the distance – ESCC? Why should children be expected to walk 2.8 miles?

  8. The mind boggles, sending 3 buses to Homewood, in another county is madness, especially when there is also service buses taking children on that route everyday, its time to look after the interest of local children first, going to school in Rye.

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