Confused about the Suffolk School Travel Consultation? I’m hearing people saying things like “why don’t kids go to their local school?” and “why don’t they cycle like we did?”
THIS IS MISSING THE POINT.
Be clear, Suffolk is already only providing free transport to those children who meet strict criteria: children must be over-8 and living OVER 3 miles from their catchment or transport priority school; or under 8 and living OVER 2 miles from ditto.
Parental choice plays no part.
If you want to send your child to a non-catchment or non-tp school, it’s your lookout! Your car(And remember governments of both right and left closed most village schools in the days when petrol was cheap, and buses plentiful. Thats why so many rural children live such a distance from their schools)
What Suffolkcc is trying to do now is REDUCE its statutory responsibility FURTHER so that it will ONLY provide free transport to eligible children to the nearest school (which will still have to be more than 3/more than 2 miles away depending on age). This will limit choice in some areas where the closure of middle schools has created anomalies -including promises (by the county council) that children from certain closed schools will attend certain other schools.
It will also put more cars on the roads – not least because many rural roads are simply not safe for child pedestrians and cyclists in morning and evening. And that makes it increasibly less safe for others.
Those who have responded will notice the cards stacked in favour of Option 1, which -we are told -“has the potential to make the greatest financial savings.”
This is inaccurate. Research by the LDGI group showed 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.
Because it will put more cars on our roads and around our schools, this proposal will affect everyone. Evefyone needs to respond.
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.
Why should local and national government ideology on tax make free school transport a rural problem? 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. Our Suffolk young people should be entitled to no less!
The consultation is here: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/consultations-petitions-and-elections/consultations/school-and-post-16-travel-consultation/