Parents voice anger as essential school bus service scrapped

Janine Edgar lives in Hadleigh with her son Jonty, who travels to Colchester Grammar School on the 9

Janine Edgar lives in Hadleigh with her son Jonty, who travels to Colchester Grammar School on the 971 bus service. Picture: JANINE EDGAR - Credit: Archant

A bus service popular among students who use it to travel between Hadleigh, Capel St Mary, East Begholt and Colchester is being scrapped come September, leaving some children with no way to get to school.

The 971 service previously came under the threat of being scrapped last year after Suffolk County Council pulled its subsidy for a number of rural routes – but Beestons decided to continue operating it on a commercial basis.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said he was “delighted” when the bus was saved last year, adding it remained an important route for a number of his constituents.

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Janine Edgar lives in Hadleigh with her son Jonty, who takes the 971 bus to Colchester Grammar School where he is in Year 8.

“I think this is another victim of the lack of funding from our local council,” she said. “You can imagine my concern and disappointment that the only service available to get my son to school has now been cancelled.

“There are 28 other families who I have created a Whatsapp group with who are affected by this and many of them are going into Year 7 or sixth form come September.”

Janine and her husband are both self-employed so a school run by car will cost them both fuel and earnings, as well as the environmental impact of more cars being on the road if other families take up the school run instead of public transport.

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The town does have a high school but no sixth form college so all students in the area are forced to travel elsewhere for education past Year 11.

The mum added: “All of us parents, and I am sure we will find out there are more, are willing to pay for a bus, otherwise many children are looking at having to move schools.

In a statement, a Beestons spokesman said: “Beestons has sadly had to make this decision due to the local authorities withdrawing the funding for this route.

“We do apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.”

A Suffolk County Council spokeswoman said the council is unable to provide further funding to save the service as the local bus budget has not changed.

She added alternative routes may be available for some, which can be found on the Suffolk on Board website.

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