School transport and bus cuts splitting villages and families apart
Parents of children who will be affected by school transport cuts in September say they will tear not only communities but families apart.
Fiona Macaulay, of Elmswell, has a daughter and son who both attend Thurston Community College and they are hoping to move house, but will not be able to do so without having to foot a £750 annual transportation bill – depending on where in the village they move to.
“Elmswell is a 80/20 split that would be affected,” Fiona said. “At the moment any children that are already in attendance will still continue to get transport to and from Thurston.
“As of September the nearest school to me will be deemed as Stowmarket High.
“It’s a bit like a lottery.”
She added: “It’s not only splitting communities, it’s splitting up families.”
The cuts will see all children going into Year 7 in September only getting free transport to their nearest school.
Louise Everett lives in Borley Green. Her son Dylan already attends Thurston College, but her daughter Daisy, who is set to join the school in September, will not be entitled to free transport like her brother.
“It’s ridiculous for us. In a class of 19 children it’s completely split, half of them entitled to free transport, half of them not,” she said.
Jack Abbott, Labour spokesman for education, said Suffolk County Council was ‘repeatedly warned’ the plans ‘would split villages in two, cost the council more money and place a near £1,000 burden (per child) on families’.
He added: “Suffolk County Council must finally wake up to the damage they will cause to families, schools and communities and reverse these dreadful changes before it is too late.”
A council spokesman said: “There are many factors which determine why certain transport options are, or aren’t, available for children to certain schools. The school choices which parents make is one of these.”
He said in cases where there was no entitlement to funded travel, the council would help to broker solutions such as lift shares and parents could contact the Suffolk Brokerage Service.
He added that the policy ensured the ‘right balance’ between supporting those in education and providing a ‘sustainable and affordable way forward for school travel’.