'This world isn't safe' - Pupil forced to walk nearly an hour to school after bus change
PUBLISHED: 07:44 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 07:57 23 July 2019
A mother has hit out at the council after she was told her son wasn't able to catch the school bus for free despite living almost an hour's walk from his school.
Toni Mitchell, 46, was shocked to hear her 11-year-old son Cody wasn't entitled to Suffolk County Council's new funded travel to Pakefield High School from their home in Kessingland, despite her 14-year-old son Alex qualifying.
The mother-of-two said: "Because we live within three miles he won't qualify for free transport because he is over eight years old."
Mrs Mitchell said Cody can opt into the service and ride the bus with his peers, but the family will need to pay around £750 a year because the school is in "walking distance".
As it is transition week, Cody has been catching the public bus, however, his mother said the service is overcrowded and unreliable.
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She said: "What about in winter when it is dark and raining and he is standing at the bus stop by himself?"
The walk to and from their home takes at least 45 minutes along London Road, which Mrs Mitchell said was too dangerous to cycle because of buses and lorries.
"I am not being funny - this world isn't safe. It makes you worry as a parent. I know they call them young adults, but they are still children," she said.
Suffolk County Council no longer allows children over the age of eight and within a three-mile radius access to the tax-payer funded service, as part of a new five-year phase for school transport.
Gordon Jones, the council's cabinet member for children's services, education and skills, said: "There are many factors which determine why certain transport options are, or aren't, available for children to certain schools. The school choices which parents make is one of these.
"The policy for school travel has changed which means we only provide SCC funded school travel to the nearest suitable school. In addition, we are now incorporating Public Rights of Way when measuring distances and assessing entitlement.
"The policy is being phased in over the next five years which means that children already receiving funded school travel will continue to do so, whereas new pupils will have to apply for a spare seat."