What bus cuts mean to parents

Parents protest in front of the school bus in Herstmonceux. SUS-140606-111909001
Parents protest in front of the school bus in Herstmonceux. SUS-140606-111909001

Parents trying to get the council to do a U-turn on proposals to charge children up to £700 to get to school met with the councillor responsible for passing the controversial new levy.

Cllr Nick Bennett, who heads the committee that agreed the charge in January, met with angry parents at the bus stop in Herstmonceux as schoolchildren boarded the coach for Heathfield Secondary School.

Parents angry at the proposal have presented a petition with almost 200 names to East Sussex County Council asking it to reverse the decision.

The council, which says it axed the subsidy to save the council money, has now pledged to look again at the decision when it meets at the end of the month.

The campaign group has been gathering support from parents as well as from headteachers whose schools will be affected by the changes and local MP Greg Barker.

Mr Barker wrote to campaign organiser Jennie Mackay saying, “I am firmly against this proposal which I believe will divide rural communities and limit parent choice.”

The parents’ group is calling on the council to go back on the decision which will make parents pay to send their children to certain schools, when currently the service is provided free of charge.

For some parents it will mean finding as much as £700 per year to send their children to the school of their choice.

The council plans see children in a number of so-called “joint areas” only getting free school buses to the secondary school that is closer to their home.

Children in these zones had been allowed free school transport to a choice of schools, but the Council has now axed the subsidy for children moving to secondary school next year.

East Sussex County Council has said that the proposed changes will make the system “clearer, fairer and more equitable”.