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Mother brings school transport plight to council meeting

Wednesday, 23rd February 2011.

A mother of a child with special needs brought her plight to her local councillors last night after she heard Suffolk County Council was cutting transport to her daughter's school in Bury St Edmunds.

Suffolk is axing free home-to-school transport for post 16s, Roman Catholics and students who need special arrangements, all of which involve Haverhill children attending schools in Bury.

Tracey Chapman used the public forum of Haverhill Town Council to highlight how the change will affect her daughter Ellie, who has learning difficulties and attends Priory School in Bury.

She said she and her husband both worked in Cambridge so would be unable to take Ellie to and from school. Her learning age was such that she could not be expected to use public transport on her own.

Labour group leader Cllr Maureen Byrne described the situation the Chapmans had been placed in as 'disgusting' and 'deplorable'.

"This a political decision by Suffolk county councillors," she said, "and we have two of them in this room. I would like to ask them if they were party to it. This family deserves an explanation."

She was referring to Cllr Phillip French, who is a member of both town and county council, and to Cllr Tim Marks, who was attending as a member of the public.

Cllr French said there was a system whereby people could appeal against a cut in school transport, but Cllr Pat Hanlon said people with special needs children had enough to do looking after them without going to an appeal which might be very daunting.

Later in their meeting, members discussed the town council's response to the county council's proposals, which was on the agenda.

Members told clerk Gordon Mussett they wanted him to respond 'in the strongest possible terms' on the issue of special needs children.

The council has been calling for a special needs school in Haverhill for several years.

Mr Mussett said it was not a 'lifestyle choice' for people to send special needs children to Bury - it was just the nearest special needs school.

Haverhill Online News

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