Suffolk County Council’s public consultation on proposed changes to the school transport policy comes to an end on Wednesday 28 February. Councillors from the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group have repeatedly raised concerns over the poor quality of information provided in the consultation documentation, and argue that this will hinder the ability of residents to give an informed response to the proposals.
Concerns were raised by councillors and members of the public at both the Council meeting on 8 February and the Cabinet meeting on 20 February over the lack of clear financial information, the conflation of mainstream and SEN transport budgets, and the omission of credible alternative options.
This morning, Suffolk County Council once again called on residents to complete the consultation, but failed to address these concerns. Cllr Andrew Stringer, Deputy Leader of the LDGI Group, commented:
“I am very concerned that there continue to be serious omissions in the information provided by Suffolk County Council.
Spending on SEN 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. Despite this, the proposed policy changes focus solely on mainstream transport.
To make matters worse, they have provided no real evidence that a policy change could actually achieve any real savings. Figures ranging from £200,000 to £3m have been carelessly flung around, but no convincing evidence has been produced by the council despite our numerous requests.
Neither have they included the credible ‘Option 4’ proposed by Thurston’s headteacher, Helen Wilson, which would achieve far greater savings whilst not risking the disruption of our children’s education.
For all these reasons, Suffolk County Council are guilty of severely misleading Suffolk residents.”
Details of the consultation can be found here. We would encourage everybody to complete it.