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Campaigners demonstrate the traffic “carnage” they say would be an every day reality if free school transport was cut

PUBLISHED: 18:38 09 February 2018 | UPDATED: 19:19 09 February 2018

Traffic congestion at Thurston Community College as parents drive their children to school. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Traffic congestion at Thurston Community College as parents drive their children to school. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Thurston twice ground to a halt yesterday as parents took to the roads to protest the council’s plan to cut free school transport.

Thurston twice ground to a halt today as parents took to the roads to protest the council’s plan to slash free school transport.

Tailbacks snaked around Thurston Community College as an extra 300 cars joined the school run in the morning and afternoon as part of an organised demonstation to prove the proposed cuts would cause traffic chaos.

Suffolk County Council’s controversial consultation proposes free school transport be granted only to a child’s nearest school. The current policy allows free travel to any school in their catchment area more than three miles from their home.

This change would see 3,055 children in the county either have to change school, pay £960 each for a bus pass or be driven to school by their parents.

Traffic congestion at Thurston Community College as parents drive their children to school. Picture: GREGG BROWNTraffic congestion at Thurston Community College as parents drive their children to school. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Jonathan Sturman, a father who took place in the demo said: “All the access roads around the school were very busy and it took around ten minutes from drop off point to get out of the village. It was very congested. We have one child at Thurston and one child at Elmswell Primary who would, should these changes go ahead, lose out on travel to Thurston and only get a free bus to Stowmarket High School. It’s a postcode lottery.

“We don’t want to change their schools so would have to drive them. And this is what the roads would be like everyday.”

Sarah Rodwell said: “We couldn’t let the decision be made, then there be no way to rectify it. They have to see what it would be like. And this will be the situation every day if this goes ahead. Cars everywhere. There were queues for quite a distance as I came out of the car park, I couldn’t negotiate to go right out of the car park, it was just too busy.”

Esther Bedford said: “It was awful. It took me over twenty minutes to get from the front of the school onto the open road. It led to children leaping from cars anywhere so they weren’t late and so parents didn’t have to pull in and worsen the situation. If the council pushes ahead with this, it could be dangerous.”

Traffic congestion at Thurston Community College as parents drive their children to school. Picture: GREGG BROWNTraffic congestion at Thurston Community College as parents drive their children to school. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Headteacher, Helen Wilson said: “Today’s demonstration by our parents has shown what will happen every day in our village if the council removed free transport for over 800 of our students. The council’s proposal is totally unworkable.”

Suffolk County Council said that transport to the school was running as normal and that it was the parents choice to choose not to use the service.

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