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'Surrey has duty to support sustainable travel'

February 4, 2008: After a packed public meeting addressed by local notables including Surrey County Councillor Jim Smith (right) at the Barn Hall on January 27, the leaders of the campaign to change admissions policy at the Howard of Effingham made a detailed submission to Surrey County Council (SCC). The submission was part of a consultation process which ended on January 31.

As reported ('Fight doesn't end…, below) Bookham parents are fighting a decision to give children from East Horsley a higher priority for admissions to the Howard than their own.

In a statement issued today the campaign, called Don’t Drive Our Children Away (DDOCA) said it had submitted 'a detailed 13 page response to [the] 2009 Admissions consultation.

DDOCA said the submission was 'backed up by evidence in the form of 17 appendices in which we totally opposed the proposed criterion of distance to nearest alternative school as a tie breaker.

'Our submission is a well researched document and uses evidence that we have gathered over the time since the publication of the Adjudicator's ruling for 2008. We have included the maps that we showed you at the recent public meeting and which clearly demonstrate that the application of the nearest alternative school tie-break will dramatically alter the Howard catchment based on the old APA by bringing in communities that have not historically attended the school at the expense of giving the lowest priority to other communities who have traditionally gone there.

'We have also included a considerable benchmarking exercise that we carried out in relation to the proposed tie-break which demonstrates that the tie-break is not used in isolation anywhere else in the country, is unsuitable in the proposed situation, and that other authorities believe that it cannot be used in conjunction with equal preference.

'We argue that the way in which Surrey seek to apply the tie-break would contravene the Admissions Code and the duty of Surrey County Council to promote sustainable travel. The fact that the tie-break risks putting children who would otherwise walk or cycle to school in a position where this is no longer an option for them is a further argument against the tie-break.

'We demonstrate that there are a number of schools with available places within a reasonable journey time of the Horsleys and that the increase in journey time is proportionately less than the increase for children within walking distance of the Howard.

'We are hopeful that Surrey County Council will acknowledge the arguments contained in our submission and that it will help inform them in reaching an equitable solution to admissions for the Howard. We will keep you informed and please keep checking our website for the latest news.'

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