Some years ago Essex County Council decided it wanted to save money from the school transport budget and introduced revised policies. The new policies have not actually saved any money and the effects have fallen heavily on Uttlesford, because it is a very rural part of the county.
The controversy continues – only recently Essex Cabinet Member, Cllr Ray Gooding urged protesters to “accept reality” and stop complaining about the new policy. In this area, if you live less than 3 miles from school the presumption is you don’t qualify for school transport. The consequence is more cars on the road at school times or children struggling to walk or cycle along roads that frequently don’t have footpaths and certainly don’t have cycle paths, and in mid-winter that means in the dark. With cars speeding to rail stations or heading for the motorway, it is a recipe for disaster and only a matter of time before there is a tragedy.
The county council in it’s stated guidance doesn’t think the absence of footpaths is a big problem for walking to school. The current Essex policy isn’t just unfair, it is downright dangerous. That is the “reality”. Just because you are less than 3 miles from school doesn’t make it any less dangerous. You are entitled to ask about transport and to appeal a refusal. Stand your ground – a family in Littlebury Green recently succeeded in reversing a decision.
This is a continuing and developing issue. We have not got to the bottom of it yet but we will keep asking questions and keep you updated.
This article is from the Proudly Independent newsletter, August 2019; since when there has been a change of contractor used by ECC and a string of complaints about safety and punctuality. Consequent upon the pandemic crisis we wait to see which bus companies remain in business and if there needs to be a change of contractor, whether there is one willing to take on the school contract.