Caroline Page, LDGI Spokesperson for Transport, asks why Suffolk County Council’s Conservative administration are so reluctant to protect free school transport for rural families:
Respondents to Suffolk’s School Transport consultation will notice the cards stacked in favour of Option 1, which apparently “has the potential to make the greatest financial savings.”
Inaccurate. Option 1 offers a completely unknown amount of financial savings while creating a postcode lottery of opportunity and causing huge unfairness – most specifically to rural residents in Suffolk. It will put more cars on our roads and around our schools. It will affect everyone.
Interestingly Option 1 uses the weasel words “change the school travel policy so that it is in line with legal requirements” which suggest Suffolk’s current policy is not in line with legal requirements. It should read, “change SCC’s policy so that it still conforms with the minimum national statutory requirements.” I fear the wording has been framed inaccurately to encourage respondents to believe an untruth.
Personally, I support Option 3: “Make no changes to the school travel policy but make savings …. through currently unidentified alternative funding.”
And how to fund it?
Simple! Suffolk County Council Leader Colin Noble has long proclaimed his party’s prudence and virtue in having capped council tax for the last 7 years (although every housekeeper has noticed the rise of the cost of living in that time). This has left the county’s coffers some millions out of pocket.
So, since it was his idea – go ask him! Find out where the virtue and prudence lies in removing transport from low-income rural families so that more affluent council tax payers in Suffolk didn’t have to bear the dreadful burden of a 1% rise year on year.
Not keen on that idea? Well then, (to use the vernacular) I suggest the council grows a pair and goes to lobby the government for more funding for rural transport. Few London students live 3 miles from school – the maximum distance a Suffolk over-8yo is expected to walk before entitled to free school transport. And London children and young people get free transport anyway.
We in Suffolk are asking why our Conservative-run county council is so milquetoast about bearding Conservative central government to demand transport parity for Suffolk’s rural residents!
This policy will affect all Suffolk residents. Please respond to Suffolk County Council’s consultation and tell them what you think.
The consultation is open until 28 February – click here.