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Special needs transport cuts are a source of shame

Thursday, 24th February 2011.

Some Haverhill Town Councillors 'felt ashamed to be living in Suffolk' when they heard about the county's proposal to cut free school transport for children with special needs.

This is what town clerk Gordon Mussett has told Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, Cllr Graham Newman.

Mr Mussett was making the response on behalf of the town council to the county's consultation exercise on the proposals.

Haverhill mother Tracey Chapman attended Tuesday night's town council meeting to highlight her family's plight if the proposals went ahead, and members were so incensed they intructed Mr Mussett to respond 'in the strongest possible terms' to the consultation.

Mr Mussett has written saying: "I think it fair to say that these proposals, affecting families with some of the most vulnerable members of our community, made some of my councillors feel ashamed to be living in Suffolk."

He points out these children did not choose to be born with issues demanding specialist schooling, neither did their parents choose to have children with these needs.

Nor were they able to influence the location of special schools in the county, often far from homes which had been chosen by their parents prior to their birth.

Mrs Chapman's daughter attends Priory School in Bury St Edmunds, but she and her huisband both work in Cambridge and would be unable to take her to school themselves, while her learning age meant she could not be expected to use public transport.

Mr Mussett concludes: "The town council opposes any proposals to change the existing arrangements for home-to-school transport for this small, but specialist group.

"This extends to not removing any concessions, to continuing to provide transport for parents attending reviews (especially out of county), and to providing home-to-school transport between schools where dual placements are considered in the child’s best interest."

Haverhill Online News

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