Bonymaen boy faces 'unsafe' three-mile walk to school

Ruth James and son Tomos explain their worries about the route

An 11-year-old boy faces a three-mile (5km) walk to school along a route deemed unsafe by local police because he does not qualify for free transport.

Tomos James from Bonymaen, Swansea, lives around 260ft (80m) too close to Ysgol Bryntawe to catch the school bus.

His mother Ruth fears for his safety on a walk through woodland, underpasses and over a bridge from September.

Swansea council said it had carried out a full review of the route, based on him being accompanied by an adult.

But BBC Wales' Welsh language news programme Newyddion has obtained a letter from a local police officer to Swansea council's head of transport, warning of the risk to Tomos.

In the letter, the policeman said: "I have advised Mrs James that this is not a safe route for her children to walk.

Start Quote

We understand the frustration of parents whose homes fall outside of the qualifying boundary for free transport to school”

End Quote Swansea council spokesman

"This section is also one in which we deal with a number of anti-social problems including cars being burnt out, drug misuse, motor cycle annoyance and assaults."

The police officer added: "During the winter months children would have to walk along the forest path in darkness at times when there are not many people around."

Swansea council said children qualified for free transport when they lived more than three miles along an available walking route to their school of choice.

Tomos James Tomos James faces the walk from September but his mother has safety concerns

Tomos's mother Ruth James said the council did not have to take personal safety into account when assessing an "available route".

'Frustration'

But a Swansea council spokesman said: "Following the concerns raised by Tomos' parents, council officers have recently been on site and carried out a full review of the walking route.

"The assessment is based on a child being accompanied as appropriate by an adult, not a lone child.

"As a result the route does meet the criteria as an available route which means Tomos does not qualify for free home to school transport.

"There is however a bus service available from the Bonymaen area to the school."

The spokesman added: "We understand the frustration of parents whose homes fall outside of the qualifying boundary for free transport to school."

Tomos's parents said they were happy to pay for him to catch the school bus, which passes their house.

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