Oliver opens new footpath after 30 year saga

Courtesy of the Bridport and Lyme Regis News


CHILDREN can now walk to school after a 30-year campaign for a safe footpath to be built was finally completed.

Youngsters in Salway Ash celebrated as a new footpath by Dorset County Council was opened - connecting the village with the primary school and the church.

The council put on four buses a day to take pupils 800 metres to and from Salway Ash School after ruling the stretch of the busy B3162 was too dangerous to walk. DCC confirmed the service was costing £250 a day – close to £50,000 a school year. But now, youngsters will be able to march to school.

Sara Bennett, organiser of the campaign for last nine years, is pleased the path is open after a "long battle".

She said: "This is something we are really excited about and delighted that this is happening.

"There was an 800m stretch that we couldn't ever walk along with the children.

"It has been a lot of hard work and many changes along the way but it is what people want and a bit of people power came through and Rebecca Knox has been instrumental in getting it done."

Cllr Knox, DCC ward member, said that villagers had become "so infuriated that something could not be done".

She added: "It is the right thing to do to connect the village.

"As traffic has increased in volume along this road, it became more noticeable that a path was needed and a real emphasis was put on trying to achieve that.

"It has been done really sensitively and the project really was driven by the community."

West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin was on hand for the opening of the "splendid" path on Friday (10). Mr Letwin didn't think he would still be alive by the time the "much treasured route" was completed.

He said: "This has been a saga that has lasted 30 years.

"It became clear that this village was in a very unusual position in having the church and the school miles away from the rest of the village.

"I have lost count of the number of meetings that have gone on. I never expected to be alive by the time this footpath would be built."

Lisa Crew, head of Salway Ash Primary School is delighted the path is finally open and is looking forward to organising nature walks and geography projects for pupils in the village.

Mrs Crew said: "It's a momentous day for us - we have been waiting for this for 30 years.

"It is going to make a huge difference to the local community as well as the school. Children are going to be able to walk to school safely.


"We are desperate to be using the local environment. We are very grateful to everybody over the years who has worked so hard and they have left a legacy which will be here for years and years."