Dozens of schools in and around Cambridge have said that they will close or hold training days for staff when stage Stage 3 of the Tour de France starts in the city on Monday 7 July – with the grandmother of one child affected querying the necessity to do so.
According to Cambridge News, seven secondary and 30 primary schools in Cambridge itself and on the route of the stage as it heads towards London have taken the action because of worries over transport disruption, with some roads to be closed from the previous evening, and some not re-opening until Monday evening.
But 50-year-old Allain Goodlet, whose five-year-old grandson attends King’s Hedges Primary School, told the newspaper that on the same day her family received notice the school would be closing on the day the Tour visits Cambridge, a separate letter arrived that warned parents they could be prosecuted if they kept children away from school.
She said: “I just feel a lot of these schools are on the outskirts of town, nowhere near the Tour de France route.
“They say it’s difficult for staff to get to work, but I don’t think that’s a good enough excuse.
“You’ll be able to find a way. If a parent’s car broke down on the way to school and they said they couldn’t get in then I’m sure that wouldn’t count as exceptional circumstances.
“It seems double standards. I work as a community midwife and there’s no way we could get away with not going to work.”
The school’s head teacher, Jo Angel, said that governors had decided to close the school for the Tour “as a result of the local authority informing us that it will be difficult for school staff to get into school on that day due to the many road closures around the city for the Tour de France event taking place.”
Cambridge county council’s executive director for economy and transport, Graham Hughes, said: “We have also heard from a number of schools and academies which have been looking at the implications of the transport disruption and have been deciding whether they will open or close.
“These decisions are never easy but in taking them the headteachers have considered what they feel will be the impact of the race on their schools.”
Last month, Essex County Council wrote to school headteachers and chairs of governors to warn of road closures affecting transport to and from schools along the route through the county as it heads south, as well as those located in the Tour’s “bubble of impact.”
It warned of the possibility of pupils being stranded, and asked schools whether they planned to close on the day of the event.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.