Hawthorn Safe Routes in Communities scheme to start on-site because your councillors agreed to changes to School Transport making your children walk almost 3 miles to school and back home

Hawthorn Safe Routes in Communities scheme to start on-site because your councillors agreed to changes to School Transport making your children walk almost 3 miles to school and back home

A Rhondda Cynon Taf Council spokesperson said:“Last week, councillors agreed on the most challenging budget to date, needing to close a £36.65 million gap between the cost of delivering services and the amount of money we have to spend.

“As a council, we have had to make difficult decisions to ensure that services continue to be delivered in a financially sustainable way. It’s a financially tough outlook for councils across the UK, including Rhondda Cynon Taf, with no signs of relief on the horizon.

“Residents had the opportunity to make their voices heard during the consultation period, and Cabinet Members have listened to them. But at the same time, tough decisions have had to be made to balance the Council’s budget.

“That is why Cabinet has proceeded with the wider proposals, but decided not to change Home to School Transport for our youngest learners, retaining the eligibility for primary school learners at 1.5 miles or more.

“All secondary and post-16 learners will be eligible for free transport in line with Welsh Government’s Learner Travel Measure, which is in place across 18 of 22 Welsh council areas. This means learners who live 3 miles or more away from their place of learning will still receive free transport.

“We acknowledge that this decision will not be popular with those affected, however feedback from the consultation has been taken into account alongside consideration of the relevant impact assessments, which is why no changes have been made for primary learners.

“The Home to School Transport changes for eligible secondary and post-16 learners will be brought in from September 2025.”

Hawthorn Safe Routes in Communities scheme to start on-site because your councillors agreed to changes to School Transport making your children walk almost 3 miles to school and back home

Work will soon get underway to improve local pedestrian facilities and the safe routes to school in Hawthorn – to complement the major investment in modern education facilities being delivered for the community later this year.

The Hawthorn Safe Routes in Communities scheme will begin on Monday, May 13, with the likelihood of some minor advanced works commencing the week before. The investment will be focused on Cardiff Road, School Lane and Ynyslyn Road – which are key routes for pupils and families walking and cycling to Hawthorn Primary School and Hawthorn High School each day.

From September 2024, the new 3-16 school Ysgol Afon Wen will open for the community on the current primary and secondary school site. The major, joint investment with Welsh Government’s Sustainably Communities for Learning Programme will deliver a first-class new school building and external facilities.

To complement the development, the Council has secured further funding from you the taxpayer through the Welsh Government’s Safe Routes in Communities Fund (2024/25) to improve the local pedestrian facilities – matched by Council capital funding.

Calibre Contracting Ltd is appointed to deliver the scheme, lasting around 10 weeks. It will implement recommended safe routes improvements for the school development – including improving sections of footway, installing and upgrading informal crossings, and utilising tactile paving where necessary.

Active travel improvements will also be made to the Cardiff Road/School Lane junction, to provide a new walking and cycling link between the school site and the Taff Trail. ‘No parking’ zones will also be installed along identified junctions, to improve the current traffic flow and increase pedestrian safety.

Traffic management will be required at some locations – the positioning of which will be altered as the contractor progresses with the construction work.

This will include four-way traffic signals for work at Cardiff Road, with delays expected and motorists advised to use an alternative route where possible. Pupils are encouraged to walk to school if they can. Letters are being issued to pupils, parents and carers to advise them about the scheme, and remind them to allow enough time to travel to school, particularly in exam periods.

There will also be a weekend road closure during July for resurfacing works – further details will be communicated by the Council once finalised.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said:

Upcoming work in Hawthorn will deliver a series of pedestrian facility upgrades near the busy Cardiff Road area, used by many families to walk to and from school each day. Residents will notice the scheme starting from May 13 to improve footways, upgrade crossing points and increase the local active travel provision. We have welcomed important additional Welsh Government funding for this scheme via its Safe Routes in Communities Fund for 2024/25.

The work is being delivered this summer ahead of the new Ysgol Afon Wen opening in September. An important part of all our new school developments is to look at how the local routes to school can be improved and made safer. For example, work started in January 2024 to deliver various improvements to junctions and pedestrian routes in Church Village, and was completed in time for the recent opening of Llanilltud Faerdref Primary School’s new building.

The Hawthorn and Church Village schemes follow separate safe routes improvements that were delivered in Hirwaun last year – and a similar series of works completed in Llantwit Fardre, Llwynypia, Abercynon, Llantrisant, Cilfynydd and Ton Pentre in recent years. These either complimented school developments or were identified separately for investment by the Taxpayers

Traffic management will be needed for some aspects of the upcoming work in Hawthorn – particularly around Cardiff Road, where delays are expected. The Council will work closely with its contractor to deliver the scheme as efficiently as possible. Thanks to the community in advance for your cooperation.

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