Parents hit out at council after first day of controversial school transport plans
PUBLISHED: 07:30 05 September 2019
Education chiefs in Suffolk say "lessons are being learnt" as angry parents hit out at a shake-up in school transport after many of the county's pupils returned to school yesterday.
Some parents say their children had not received their bus passes in time for the first day back at school while others claim children have had to either stand or make alternative arrangements due to transport being full.
The complaints come after changes to travel arrangements for school children were made by Suffolk County Council (SCC) for the new academic year.
It means that funding was only available for children whose school was two or more miles away from their homes.
Parents who wish to send their children elsewhere can purchase spare seats on buses at £250 per term though some say it is too expensive.
Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children's services, education and skills, said: "This is the first year of this new process. Lessons are being learnt all the time and we will be making adjustments and improvements to the process in preparation for future years."
But mother-of-four Kayleigh Holmes said she had been left "at odds" at what to do, being unable to afford transport for her youngest daughter or drive her to school due to her husband requiring care for post-traumatic stress disorder and acute anxiety.
The spare seat scheme was the only option available to the family other than sending her to a different school than her siblings.
Mr Jones said: "The first day of term is always a busy day and logistical issues are expected. The team have been working hard to administrate the process and I would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication.
"We are not aware of any overloading issues on our buses and are confident that our operators are clear in their responsibility to get pupils to school safely.
"But I understand this is a frustrating time for families who are not eligible for SCC funded school travel and are waiting to hear the outcome of their spare seat application."
In response to claims that bus passes have not been issued despite applications being made, Mr Jones explained parents must ensure suitable photos are uploaded to their system - although 2500 passes have been issued to returning students using previous photos.