Parents get second jobs to pay for ‘disgraceful’ home-school transport in Essex

PUBLISHED: 09:54 03 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:12 03 January 2018

Parents and councillors from a number of Essex villages protested outside County Hall in Chelmsford in 2015 against cuts to home-school transport by Essex County Council. Picture: SU ANDERSON/ARCHANT

Parents and councillors from a number of Essex villages protested outside County Hall in Chelmsford in 2015 against cuts to home-school transport by Essex County Council. Picture: SU ANDERSON/ARCHANT

Essex County Council last night refused to back down from its “disgraceful” new home-school transport policy despite fresh pressure from campaigners and hard-pressed families.

Some parents have been forced to get a second job to pay for school bus fares now costing up to £900 a year, a new survey found.

Action group Essex Against School Transport Cuts, which conducted the research, said they heard “heart-wrenching stories” over unsafe walking and cycling routes, dangerous congestion at the schools gates, overcrowded buses, and extra rush-hour traffic.

The amended home-school transport policy, introduced in September 2015, only allows free transport to a child’s nearest school with places – provided they live over three miles away (aged 8-16) or over two miles away (under eights) – instead of to any catchment school. The policy was amended to save money (just over £40,000 in two years) and remove old catchment areas.

Some 5,000 fewer children are now being transported to schools on free buses in Essex since 2012.

Suffolk County Council is also consulting residents on whether to introduce a similar new policy.

In the survey, one parent wrote: “This two tier policy is creating social divide in rural areas and singling out those who cannot afford to pay. It is wholly unacceptable that areas have to pay to get to their catchment school when for generations transport has been provided.

“Our nearest school is 2.8 miles on a very dark, dangerous route.”

One single mother said: “I am paying £900 every school year just to get my daughter to school. Completely disillusioned.”

Another said: “I’ve been outside the school at finishing time and it’s extremely dangerous.

Another added: “It’s disgraceful. No Chelmsford secondary schools can be safely walked to.”

Scott Wilson, of Essex Against School Transport Cuts, said: “We want Essex County Council to immediately suspend and review their policy, or start providing an annual school transport allowance to parents whose children live more than three miles away from their nearest school, together with regulated bus prices.”

Ray Gooding, education cabinet member at Essex County Council, said: “The policy change was made to ensure there is a consistent and equitable system. We have absolutely no intention of reviewing or changing the policy. Our savings are on track.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Saffron Walden Reporter visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Saffron Walden Reporter staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Saffron Walden Reporter account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More news stories

Yesterday, 07:50

An MEP has criticised the ‘sharing’ of ambulances by the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.

Yesterday, 10:59

The Met Office says there is potential for very strong winds on Thursday evening and overnight into Friday morning.

Yesterday, 09:05

A Dunmow man has been found after being reported missing.

Tue, 13:39

The Cross Keys in Saffron Walden will be on TV screens this week after it was chosen for Channel 4 show, Four in a Bed.

Digital Edition

Read the Saffron Walden Reporter e-edition E-edition

Most read stories

Newsletter Sign Up

Saffron Walden Reporter weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy