Parents have their say at transport meetings

West Suffolk House
West Suffolk House

A council’s plans to cut free school transport were deemed ‘nonsense’ by parents at a series of consultations in Bury last week.

Parents from across Suffolk voiced their concerns during five hour-long public consultation sessions held by transport officers from Suffolk County Council at West Suffolk House last Friday.

According to parents, the main issues presented by the plans, which could see 3,700 students lose their free school transport, included an upheaval to their children’s education, the potential cost to parents and moving children to out-of-county schools in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

“The county borders issue is a huge one,” said one parent from Redgrave, whose children would be provided transport to Diss under the new scheme.

“We vote for Suffolk so why should we go to a school that we have no say in? I want to have a say in my child’s education. I want them in Suffolk. The education systems don’t even align. It’s just nonsense.”

Another parent from Barrow raised a concern about feeder schools and how the new system would render them pointless.

“It’s just messing with our children’s education. They’ve gone to a certain primary school in order to get into a certain secondary school and now they won’t be guaranteed a place because it’s not the closest one,” she said.

“You should be keeping them in the same place. You’re messing them about and it’s rubbish.”

The controversial plans were announced last year, as part of the council’s plans to save money following government cuts.

The council currently provide more than the legal requirement for school transport, with £21 million of tax payers’ money being spent getting children to and from school every year.

Cllr Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said: “We have already received an overwhelming amount of feedback, which demonstrates just how important the decision is that Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet will take in June 2018.

“I would like to thank everyone that has responded so far and encourage those that haven’t, to read the proposals and complete the survey at: www.suffolk.gov.uk/schooltravel. This is an opportunity for all Suffolk residents to have their say about how council tax is spent.”

The consultation is open until Wednesday, February 28. For more information and to have your say, visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/schooltravel