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Parents' anger at bus service axe

PUBLISHED: 19:06 20 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:47 02 March 2010

PARENTS have spoken of their anger after a school bus service, which serves village communities was axed.

The bus is used by children from Onehouse, Harleston and Shelland going to Stowmarket high and middle schools, and the Chilton primary school in the town.

PARENTS have spoken of their anger after a school bus service, which serves village communities was axed.

The bus is used by children from Onehouse, Harleston and Shelland going to Stowmarket high and middle schools, and the Chilton primary school in the town.

Suffolk County Council decided it would be more cost effective for five children who used the bus to attend school, who were entitled to transport to school, to be sent by taxi instead.

But the bus was also used by other children going to school, who paid to use the service, and their parents are now upset.

Kay Smith, whose ten-year-old son Adam attends Stowmarket Middle School, said: "Suffolk County Council are obliged to lay on transport for children entitled to free bus passes and they are being looked after and have taxis now.

"But that left a lot of children whose parents work to 5pm to make their children walk in. It's a busy road and we think it's disgusting.

"When winter comes it will be getting dark and children will be walking more than two miles home.I and another parent pick up as many children as we can, but there is a limit to how many you can collect.''

Tom Oxley, from First Eastern Counties, said that with the children from the county council the contract bus was just economically viable, but without them there are too few people using it to make it commercially viable.

He said the bus will be back in service, probably temporarily, from next week after the school holidays, but only until May 24, when it will probably be withdrawn completely.

Carolyn Schleich,whose daughter attends Stowmarket Middle School, is unhappy that her daughter and other pupils will be expected to walk along a busy road which have no pavement or street lights.

She added that she was happy with the previous arrangement of paying for her daughter to use the bus service, and it was vital for parents who work.

Mrs Schleich runs an after-school club in the town and often does not arrive home until 6pm.

She said the route is the only one to and from the school that she believed a child would be hurt if they continue to walk

She appealed over the decision on March 30 to the Educational Transport Department of Suffolk County Council and is waiting for a reply.

David Thornton, Acting Director of Learning at Suffolk County Council said that the decision to terminate the service was made by the operator of the route, First Eastern Counties.

He replied that this was because the route had "consistently failed to provide a reliable service" which led to the "decision was taken to terminate the contract."

However, Mr Thornton added that the decision was taken "regrettably".


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