Rural families should pay bus fares

IT WAS no surprise when there was an outcry about the proposal to cut transport subsidies to pupils travelling to denominational (ie Catholic) schools in Suffolk.

IT WAS no surprise when there was an outcry about the proposal to cut transport subsidies to pupils travelling to denominational (ie Catholic) schools in Suffolk.

No doubt there will be an even bigger row when the county council extends charging fares to all pupils who are bussed to schools from rural areas.

I hope the politicians don't buckle and give in to the rural mafia!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with charging families who live in Bealings or Kirton to take Tarquin and Tara to the nearest high school.

Let's be clear: their transport is not free. The buses, drivers, and fuel don't appear by magic every morning, only to return to schoolbus fairyland every evening!

They have to be paid for - and if it isn't through fares, it's through council tax.

Most Read

And why should families who live on the Whitton or Chantry estates in Ipswich or in Maidstone Road in Felixstowe have to pay for teenagers living in £300,000 homes in the countryside to get to school?

There are costs to living in the countryside - and the cost of getting the children to school should be something families consider when deciding to move to rural villages.

Let's be honest, people are prepared to pay thousands of pounds more for homes in the countryside - look at our property pages tonight. Homes in rural Suffolk are significantly more expensive than they are in the towns.

If people are able to pay thousands more for their country idyll, why shouldn't they have to contribute to the cost of taking their kids to school?

I know not everyone living in the countryside is rolling in it, but there's no reason why free school transport shouldn't be provided on the same basis as free school meals.

And the fact remains that people living in the countryside pay less in council tax for homes in the same band as those in Ipswich.

That's because Ipswich council taxpayers subsidise everyone else in Suffolk who uses the Ipswich Regent, Ipswich Museum, Christchurch Mansion, Crown Pools, or the town's parks - especially when there are major concerts there as there will be this summer.

No doubt some "countryside campaigners" will get up in arms and demand that their offspring get carried around free of charge. Possibly some will be selfish and stupid enough to threaten to refuse to pay and stop their children getting to school.

In the end, I'm sure, sanity will prevail. I just hope it doesn't lead to a proliferation of 4x4s on the country lanes as mums reckon it's cheaper to spend £10 in petrol and depreciation getting Johnny too and from school than paying his £2 bus fare!

TIM Clarke's appointment as managing director of National Express's Greater Anglia franchise was excellent news for the region - and especially the rural lines.

During his time as MD of Anglia Railways, the service has improved markedly - only really being held back by track problems which were outside the train company's control and the comparative financial weakness of Anglia's parent GB Railways in comparison with the industry's "big boys."

Mr Clarke understands the importance of the rural lines feeding into the main line - and knows what passengers want on the InterCity line between Norwich, Ipswich and London.

With his past record and NX's financial clout, I'm really optimistic about the future of the region's rail services.

I WAS fascinated to hear shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin telling us that the Conservatives will raise spending on health and education while cutting taxes.

I couldn't help wondering why he didn't go the whole hog and promise us an end to war, pestilence, and promise us all a succession of warm summers and white Christmases!

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter