School bus cut off by BT work
YOUNG children living in two coastal villages will struggle to get to school for more than two months due to the closure of a main road.
BT plans to shut the road between Seaton and Downderry for 74 days from November 4 in order to lay cables as part of the rollout of Superfast Broadband.
Brenton Road, which links the villages, will be closed while 1,000 metres of fibre optic cables are laid – meaning a community school bus won't be able to take children to St Nicholas C of E Primary School in Downderry. Its operators have said the 18-mile detour means the service is not viable.
Lee Rounce, head teacher of St Nicholas Primary School, said: "We are dealing with children who rely on the bus and that's going to be a challenge for them because we are not sure there's even pedestrian access.
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"This will mean children will have to walk along the beach in winter, which isn't a very good start to the school day."
Roz Humphreys, a resident of Seaton with six-year-old twins who attend the primary school, said: "We will have to fight through traffic to get to work and to school.
"BT is a huge company and is not considering us."
Cornwall Council was due to meet BT yesterday to discuss the approved road closure.
The plans to close the road were approved by Cornwall Council Highways Division, with diversions until December 13.
The road closure is from the Beach car park in Seaton, along Brenton Road into Downderry and along Main Road to the car park opposite Broads Yard.
Councillor Jim Candy, Cornwall councillor for the area, said: "We cannot keep the road open, as it's not wide enough. The road will have to be closed.
A spokesman for BT said: "Access for all businesses and the school will be maintained via a diversion route from Seaton village via Hessenford Road, the A387 to Polbathic and Tregunnis Lane in Downderry.
"Pedestrian access will also be maintained during the road closure."
The children from both areas who attend St Nicholas Primary School make up nearly half of the school's population.
The school and local residents of Downderry said they were not consulted about the plans and they are working with Mr Candy to find alternative transport for about 45 children.
By law, the council cannot refuse consent to a statutory undertaker, such as a utility company, to carry out works on the road under the New Roads and Street Works Act.
A Cornwall Council spokesman said: "We are working on solutions for the two buses which transport pupils for whom the authority has a statutory responsibility."
Sections of the road will be closed at a time, so that local residents can use part of the road up to where the work is taking place.
The regular bus services from Seaton to Looe will also be affected, as well as the Seaton to Torpoint routes and the A Line bus services.
Mr Candy said: "I don't think as a local councillor I have the powers to stop a utility company.
"They will no doubt want to work with me to minimise the disruption for the community."