An eight-year-old school boy who was facing a near three-mile walk to primary school in Summercourt has been told his council-funded transport will be reinstated following a lengthy campaign by his father.

Barkley Sharp lives in Mitchell and attends Summercourt Academy, his nearest primary school. He was travelling there by taxi with fellow pupils, but Cornwall Council claimed that from September, as a year 4 pupil, he was no longer eligible for free transport as he lived just under three miles from the school and specialist council officers deemed the route suitable for walking.

But Barkley’s father, Ashley, disputed their findings, pointing out that narrow country lanes, farm entrances and a ford that swelled during recent rainfall were hardly a safe environment for a child to tackle twice a day.

He claimed it would take Barkley, and an accompanying adult, at least an hour to walk each way, in all weathers and in the dark during autumn and winter.

After seven months of campaigning, including three refusals, three appeals, two County Hall hearings, 72 pages of evidence, 226 images, eight videos, six severe storms, 11 floods and two fallen trees, Mr Sharp has emerged battle-scarred but victorious.

Having attended a Stage 2 Appeals Committee hearing on Monday, January 8, Mr Sharp received a letter on Monday stating that Barkley would be provided with transport from his current address for the remainder of his time at Summercourt Academy.

Diane Bransgrove for Cornwall Council wrote: “I wish to advise you that the Committee decided to allow your appeal.

“In making their decision, the Committee found that the Transport Coordination Service had correctly applied the Council's Home to School Travel Assistance Policy and Pedestrian Route Assessment Policy.

“However, after considering the information and supporting evidence you provided, the Committee considered your family circumstances to be exceptional.

“The Committee agreed that travel assistance be provided for Barkley by way of a seat on a taxi/minibus. This will be provided for the duration of Barkley's time at Summercourt Academy and whilst you are still living at your current address.”

Mr Sharp said: “This has been going on for so long, and it has been a tough process juggling work and life over the past six months. I don’t think the transport team have seen sense, but the appeals team have.

“The fact the letter says the policy has been applied correctly suggests we can’t apply for mileage and childcare expenses incurred during that time, which I had been considering. It amounts to: ‘We have done everything right, but the route is quite silly.’”

The decision was especially welcome following the gruelling experience of the hearing. “I had prepared myself for the answer to be no, because every third sentence was met with a request by the transport team for my evidence to be disregarded because it wasn’t covered by the council’s policy,” said Mr Sharp.

“This amounted to 80% of my evidence – photos, videos, mountains of evidence, which the panel ultimately took on board.”

Confirmation of Barkley's travel arrangements will be issued by the Transport Coordination Service (TCS) within 10 working days. However, Mr Sharp's wife, Tara, received a voicemail on Monday from a taxi driver asking why her son wasn't waiting to be collected.

"The txi company knew before we did - you couldn't make it up," said Mr Sharp, who is considering sending his younger son to a different school.

“This appeal was exceptional to Barkley, and I can’t face the prospect of doing it all over again. It would also be a waste of council resources.

“But this has never been just about Barkley. It’s about all the other kids in our village who will be asked to walk that route when they reach the same stage.”