A PUBLIC right of way used by children to get to and from school has been turned into a mudbath, forcing youngsters to find another way to their lessons.

Known as the Hilly Field path, it is popular with pupils at Winterbourne International Academy.

It is a recognised safer route to school, avoiding the need to use busy roads, and students from Frampton Cotterell and Coalpit Heath used to be able to walk or cycle along it.

But Frampton Cotterell councillors Dave and Pat Hockey said the path was churned up when tree surgery work was carried out recently, with heavy rain making the situation worse.

The work involved removing the tops of some trees to avoid them interfering with electricity supplies.

Mr Hockey said: “The path was used by scores of schoolchildren from Frampton Cotterell and Coalpit Heath. They would come down Harris Barton on their bikes or on foot to get to it.

“It’s a bridleway and footpath and a designated safer route to school.”

Mr Hockey said a team working for electricity network operator Western Power Distribution had carried out the work to the trees.

He said: “There were three vehicles with trailers down there, a chainsaw gang and machinery to cut up the wood.

“The path was usable until the heavy plant and vehicles were brought in.

“The route round the roads is much longer and less safe for children walking and cycling to school every day.

“It must be made usable again for the schoolchildren, dog walkers, horse riders and others as a matter of priority.”

The community is calling for the pathway to be resurfaced in stone to avoid the situation from happening again and to create a stable, permanent walkway to the academy.

At an on-site meeting held on Tuesday morning, attended by South Gloucestershire Council public rights of way officers, representatives of Western Power's tree specialist contractors and Mr and Mrs Hockey, it was agreed to improve the route as a matter of priority.

The council and Western Power have agreed to split the cost of resurfacing the path with stone and estimates are now being taken.

A spokesman for the operator said: “Western Power Distribution had a site meeting with the council and offered, as a goodwill gesture, a contribution towards repair to the track.

"We are now waiting for those costs from the council.”