More than six thousand people have signed a petition launched by a concerned parent in response to Suffolk County Council’s controversial plans to cut free school transport.
Nikki Botting, a parent of two children at Thurston Community College, Bury St Edmunds, said that she was ‘thrilled’ but ‘not surprised’ by the success of the petition, given the strength of feeling on the issue.
The petition, which calls for the withdrawal of the proposals, has, at the time of writing, reached 6,455 signatures and is predicted to be one of the largest petitions ever received by Suffolk County Council.
Mrs Botting said; “Every child deserves free transport to their catchment school. Suffolk County Council promised to provide children the best education possible with as much choice and as few transitions as possible. This proposal would mean thousands of children moving schools mid-way through their education. The changes would ensure further traffic chaos as some parents will be forced to take on the journeys themselves. Families who cannot afford the £1,000 annual fee would have no choice at all about their child’s school.
“SCC want us to believe that the county are funding some extravagant parent choice system, but in reality we are talking about ordinary tax-paying families trying to send their children to their allocated school. The Council needs to think again.”
The petition adds to the growing pressure on the Conservative administration at Suffolk County Council who have faced heavy criticism for their plans. Headteachers have labelled the consultation as ‘total baloney’ with students describing the potential cuts as ‘catastrophic’.
Cllr Jack Abbott, Opposition Spokesperson for Education, commented; “Councillor Gordon Jones says that he is listening. If that’s the case, then he needs to listen to the thousands of people who have signed this petition and put an end to the uncertainty and worry he is causing families and teachers. He must withdraw these damaging proposals immediately.”