Labour’s Education Spokesperson, Cllr Jack Abbott, has demanded that the Tory administration at Suffolk County Council ‘puts Suffolk first’ as their contentious home-to-school transport consultation draws to a close.
The consultation, which has been ‘live’ since December, will close tomorrow [28th February 2018] after attracting over 3,500 responses before the final proposals are considered by Cabinet in June.
The proposals have provoked widespread opposition with head teachers, families and Councillors from all political parties, including the Conservatives, speaking out. A petition with over 8,000 signatures, the largest ever to be submitted to Suffolk County Council, and a ‘drive-to-school’ demonstration that brought a village to a standstill have been prominent features of a high profile campaign.
Cllr Abbott said; “These proposals, championed by Colin Noble and his Tory administration, have proved to be hugely divisive. They have reinforced the idea that politicians are ‘out of touch’ by showing they have no real understanding of the pressures that Suffolk’s schools and families are under.
“Options 1 and 2 could see the displacement of thousands of children, which we know will affect their educational outcomes. The changes will cost families nearly one thousand pounds per child and heap further budgetary pressures on schools, some of which will lose out on millions of pounds.
“If the Council had simply listened to schools like Thurston Community College in the first place, supporting their practical, truly localised solution, they could have saved more money than the current proposals, without any of the stress and worry put on families and staff.
“This consultation has cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds and will waste hundreds of man hours, resources that are desperately needed elsewhere, undermining the notion that these plans are about saving money.
“I hope that, over the next few months, the Council’s review of the consultation responses is transparent and robust and the council will come to a pragmatic, sensible decision.
“As residents of Suffolk, we will be relying on Colin Noble and his Cabinet to put party politics and ideology to one side, listen to the thousands of voices who have spoken out against these proposals, restore some faith in our County Council, and deliver a solution that puts Suffolk first.”