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Last minute deal struck to save vital school bus route

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 August 2020

Chambers and Beestons have brokered an agreement to offer children an alternative route to the 971 bus which will be cut come September. Picture: EMMA BRENNAN

Chambers and Beestons have brokered an agreement to offer children an alternative route to the 971 bus which will be cut come September. Picture: EMMA BRENNAN

Parents of children heading to school in Colchester were outraged when the only bus service from Hadleigh was unexpectedly cut – but now a last minute deal has been struck.

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

The 971 Beestons bus service was popular with those living in Hadleigh, Capel St Mary and East Bergholt, but the company announced in late June it could no longer afford to run it, after the council subsidy was pulled last year.

MORE: Parents voice anger as essential school bus service scrapped

After the outcry from families left wondering how they would get their children to school come September, the 84 Beestons service will now run from Hadleigh to Stoke by Nayland, for passengers to then change on to the 84C Chambers service to Colchester.

Suffolk County councillor Mick Fraser said he was delighted to hear the news and announced it at a Hadleigh Town Council meeting on Thursday, August 20.

However, while pupils heading to Colchester for schooling in two weeks time will be able to get the bus, other families living in the surrounding area such as East Bergholt aren’t as lucky.

Janine Edgar’s son Jonty is going into Year 9 at the Colchester Royal Grammar School and his 11-year-old sister Eloise will be joining him on the bus this year.

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“We are so very pleased that a solution has been found and we have had it confirmed in writing that the connection bus will wait for the other one as that is something us parents were worried about,” Janine said.

“But there are still 13 families in East Bergholt I know of who won’t be able to get this bus and there are sure to be others from the surrounding area.”

Nick Kitching’s daughter Anna is going into the sixth form at Colchester County High School for Girls and will have to be driven to the Colchester Park and Ride every day.

“There are 13 of us who will be doing this which is a lot of cars on the road at a time where everyone is trying to be more environmentally friendly,” he said.

“I am disappointed the funding of local transport has not been an area of focus as it should be because our children are our future.”

MORE: Parents warned u-turn over bus cut unlikely

Leigh Jamieson, Babergh District councillor for the South East Cosford ward, said the cuts to local public transport are an extra worry that families don’t need at this time of year.

He added: “It is great that we have an alternative route for those in Hadleigh, but there are still families who have been left out.”


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