All aboard the walking bus

IPSWICH'S first walking bus set off on its maiden journey today.More than twenty children from Ravenswood Primary School joined the route, staring from Lindbergh Road, wearing fluorescent yellow jackets and walking in crocodile style.

IPSWICH'S first walking bus set off on its maiden journey today.

More than twenty children from Ravenswood Primary School joined the route, staring from Lindbergh Road, wearing fluorescent yellow jackets and walking in crocodile style.

Sue Preston, a parent at the school and supervisor on the walk said:

"It's gone very well and we've had a great response.

"The children have been ever so well behaved and it's a much safer way for them to come to school."

The project came about because of the closure of Hollywells Primary School in 2001- some children who attended that school moved to the newly built, Ravenswood Primary School and now have further to walk.

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Many parents in the area drive their children to school and it was felt that a walking bus would provide a better alternative.

John Stebbings, Ravenswood project officer for Ipswich borough council said: "We are keen to encourage children to walk on what is a very busy route.

"At the moment this is just a trial run through to Christmas but we are hoping that it will be a big success and that we can extend the project."

Mr Stebbings met with headteacher of Ravenswood Primary, Marilyn Such to discuss children's methods of transport.

She said: "We are keen to encourage alternatives to the car.

"This new scheme uses local parents to assist in accompanying children to school, in a safe, controlled and fun way.

"It's gone really well today and I'm so pleased.

The children seem very happy and we hope that the project will grow and grow.

"Far too many are driven to school and I worry about the safety outside- many park inappropriately and I really want to reduce the number of cars."

The two 'drivers' are paid to walk the children to school which is a first in the area.

Mrs Such added: "We felt that we had to pay the workers to highlight the importance of their work and the scheme."

A trolley has also been provided by the county council so that youngsters do not have to carry their heavy bags to school.

The bus leaves from Lindbergh Road at 8.15, travelling through Nacton Road and then Maryon Road before arriving at the school in Ravenswood Avenue at about 8.30pm, it will also pick the children up at the end of the school day.

County Councillor, Tony Lewis, portfolio holder of children and young people added: "The Road Safety awareness the children gain from this will help ensure their safety and will hopefully create the habit of walking to school, which clearly brings a number of very positive benefits."

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