Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 7°C

min temp: 2°C

Search

Fresh concerns over school bus transport consultation with one week remaining

PUBLISHED: 17:55 21 February 2018

Suffolk County Council headquarters. Picture: ARCHANT

Suffolk County Council headquarters. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Renewed concerns have been raised over the handling of proposals to cut free home-to-school transport for thousands of children in Suffolk.

An estimated 3,700 pupils, mainly in rural areas, could lose their free school bus service, with families forced to arrange their own travel arrangements, if the proposals go ahead. Consultation closes in less than a week.

Suffolk County Council (SCC) is looking at cutting £3m from the £21m home to school transport budget by scrapping bus services for children who attend schools which are not the closest to their home. Legally, SCC only has to provide transport to the closest school. This could save £3m year but would result in around 3,700 students losing out. Headteachers warn it will drastically reduce pupil numbers and funding.

The consultation is assessing a number of scenarios: to ‘do nothing’ and an ‘incremental basis’, in which children who currently receive free transport would keep it but new starters would not. It could also see staggered school opening times introduced to help bus schedules.

Last night, Andrew Stringer, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group, said: “I am very concerned that there continue to be serious omissions in the information provided by Suffolk County Council. Spending on SEN (special educational needs) and mainstream transport is repeatedly conflated in the consultation documents. In fact, the cost pressures are not from the mainstream transport budget, but are instead the result of a lack of innovative thinking into how we can safely and efficiently transport children with special educational needs to school.

“They have provided no real evidence that a policy change could achieve any real savings. Figures ranging from £200,000 to £3m have been carelessly flung around, but no convincing evidence has been produced.”

In response, Gordon Jones, education cabinet member at SCC, stood by his statement: “With only a week to go until the consultation closes, I would encourage those that haven’t responded to the consultation, to read the proposals and complete the survey. This is an opportunity for all Suffolk residents to have their say about how council tax is spent.”

Over 3,500 people have responded to the consultation, which ends on February 28.

Justine Paul of Suffolk Market Events brings back Long Melford Farmers’ Market in 2019.

Police have been called to three overnight ram raids at shops in Ipswich, Combs Ford and Brantham.

Yates in Ipswich was packed at the weekend with many dancing, drinking and having a laugh. Do you recognise anyone in the pictures?

Police were called to reports of a fight outside an Ipswich pub in what one witness described as “chaotic” scenes.

A shop assistant who witnessed a row between members of two rival groups in an Ipswich town centre store a few hours before 17-year-old Tavis Spencer-Aitkens was stabbed to death has described her shock at the incident.

Shoppers flooded into Tower Ramparts shopping centre when it first flung open its doors more than 30 years ago.

A Woodbridge volunteer who has raised more than £650,000 for charity has received a prestigious award from the Prime Minister.

The latest research by Historic England shows that tourism is booming in the East of England, with the number of day visits almost doubling from 10m in 2012 to 18m in 2016.

Ipswich Hospital patients were treated to a visit from the stars of Ipswich Town as they made their annual trip to give out presents on the wards.

A spate of burglaries in Ipswich has left Suffolk police urging residents to be vigilant and secure with their homes and property as the evenings draw in.

Most read

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Ipswich Star daily newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24