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South Suffolk MP calls on county council to consider major reforms to 'unfair' school transport policy




Changes to home-to-school transport in Suffolk have been described by a local MP as “unfair and unreasonable”, as he urged the upcoming review into the policy to consider significant reforms.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge outlined what he believes are key flaws in the policy in a letter sent on Monday to Suffolk’s chief fire officer Mark Hardingham, who has been assigned to carry out a review by Suffolk County Council’s new education boss, Mary Evans.

The policy, which amended the eligibility criteria for subsidised travel to school, has faced intense criticism from parents.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge with Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for education, Mary Evans. Contributed picture. (20498168)
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge with Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for education, Mary Evans. Contributed picture. (20498168)

Mr Cartlidge highlighted the issues of split villages, such as Glemsford, Hartest and Edwardstone, and siblings being divided between different schools, as well as the measurement method used to determine if a child is eligible for funded transport.

He also raised the impact on vulnerable people, citing the plight of a family in Hitcham, and the anxiety caused by delayed decisions on applications for spare bus seats.

“I share the profound concern of many constituents that this policy is, in essence, unfair and unreasonable,” he wrote. “I believe this particular policy must be reformed if it is to command broader consent.

“Throughout the implementation of this policy, we have been promised local solutions to local problems. This has generally not been my experience, nor, to date, that of my constituents.

“While I understand this is a complex and challenging policy area, we do now need a significant rethink to deliver outcomes closer to taxpayers’ reasonable expectations.”



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