Controversial plans to axe 16 school bus routes across Cornwall have been shelved by Cornwall Council’s cabinet while a full policy review of school transport and pedestrian route assessment takes place.

At this morning’s cabinet meeting, Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, cabinet member for children and families, said: “The routes that were under discussion are now off the table. No routes are being looked at currently. Anyone who thinks I am trying to make children walk to school and to their deaths is completely wrong. I never had any intention of that.”

She thanked transport officers and members of the Together For Families team “who have worked hard to meet the needs while trying to find alternative solutions to an increase in cost caused by an increase in demand”.

Cllr Adam Paynter (Ind, Launceston North and North Petherwin) asked for a specific date for the presentation, and for details from the council consultation which finished on October 1 and attracted nearly 1,200 responses.

Cllr Jane Pascoe (Cons, Liskeard South & Dobwalls) said three routes in her ward had been under threat, and sought reassurance that divisional members would be consulted.

“We have the local knowledge,” she said, adding that it should not be “just a desktop review, not showing safety concerns on the ground.”

In the public gallery, Noah Law, Labour party activist in the St Austell area, told Cllr Ellenbroek the response to the consultation had been “overwhelmingly negative” and described the proposed cuts as “ridiculous”.

Mr Law organised his own petition, which gathered 1,400 signatures, and a protest walk from Poltair School in St Austell to Penwithick, one of the routes previously under threat.

After the cabinet meeting, he said: “This is really positive news. I welcome the idea of revisiting the framework so it makes sense and is less opaque. I can’t wait to tell people that we have been listened to and the process works.”

Much was made of the strength of feeling shown in public feedback to the threat to free school transport.

Richard Williams-Pears, cabinet member for Transport, said: “Barbara has been receiving a huge amount of communications on the matter, some of which have gone beyond constructive feedback. What we have here is a great example of cabinet listening.”

He illustrated the “charged” nature of the debate by referring to an email received just before the meeting. “It suggested that if I or any of my fellow cabinet members voted for the cuts, we would be assisting paedophiles to attack children and should be thrown out of office,” he said.

“This is the level of vitriol we have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s extremely difficult to make democratic decisions when dealing with that level of criticism, and I appeal for calm and common sense.”

Cllr Ellenbroek added that remote communications had “taken some of the humanity out of” the debate.

She implored members of the public: “Rather than firing off an email about how awfully we have done something, please pick up the phone. I am always happy to talk to anyone about any issue I am involved in. We are all here to do the best we can.”

The full list of proposed closures was: Minorca Lane to Bugle School; Penwithick to Poltair School; Foxhole to Brannel School; Joan Moffat Close to Liskeard Hillfort School; Porthtowan to Mount Hawke Academy; Tregadillet, South Petherwin and Prince Phillip Estate to Launceston College; St Cleer, Lamellion and Dobwalls to Liskeard School and Community College; Hatt to Landulph School; Delabole to Sir James Smith’s School (Camelford); Burlawn to Wadebridge School; Cury to Mullion School; and Truthwall to Cape Cornwall School.