Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan has been awarded a Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month Award for her campaign to improve school transport by road safety charity Brake and Direct Line.
In 2011 Leicestershire County Council withdrew a bus service taking pupils from Sileby and Mountsorrel to Humphrey Perkins School in Barrow upon Soar. This decision was made despite the head teacher, parents and pupils arguing the route is unsafe to walk.
This encouraged Nicky to start a campaign for better school transport nationwide, calling on the government to review whether legislation and government guidance adequately protects children on their way to school. In November Nicky asked a question in Parliament and the Education Minister confirmed local authorities have a duty to provide transport to school when the walking route is unsafe, but recognised there were unresolved issues in school transport for Humphrey Perkins School.
In January Nicky led a debate in Parliament on the issue. The Education Minister agreed improvements to school transport policy were needed, promising to consider putting in place a robust appeals procedure so parents can challenge school transport policy at local level.
Nicky argues it is time for a common sense approach to school transport with authorities considering the needs of families. She secured media coverage and support in her constituency and vows not to give up until necessary improvements are made to safeguard children at Humphrey Perkins School, and schools around the country.
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: "As a charity that supports road crash victims we know only too well the appalling suffering caused by the death or injury of a child. We must do more to prevent these tragedies, and to enable children to travel safely to school and in their local community without their lives being endangered. We are backing Nicky's campaign to ensure local authorities deliver on their responsibilities to ensure there are safe routes for children to walk or cycle, or sustainable alternatives like safe, modern buses."
Nicky Morgan MP said: "Our local authorities are having to make tough spending decisions as the Government deals with the deficit but there are some changes in services that have potentially devastating consequences. There can surely be no point in standing by whilst savings made by local authorities increase costs to the tax payer elsewhere due to possible hospital costs to an injured child, extra benefit payments because parent can't work due to the time it takes to get their child to and from school and lost tax receipts as parents can't continue in their job or have to choose not to go back to work. The real objection in my constituency case arose from the view of the Council that the proposed walking route is safe and the strongly held view of almost everyone else that it is not. I continue to work with constituents and local councillors to make the case on this matter."