Kessingland parents celebrate bus U-turn by Suffolk County Council

PARENTS in Kessingland were celebrating this week after winning a hard-fought campaign to secure a bus service for their children to attend the new Pakefield High School.

The new high school opens in September on the site of the existing middle school, catering for pupils from Kessingland and Gisleham as well as those in Pakefield and Carlton Colville.

But for the past two years parents have campaigned for buses to be laid on, arguing the route from Kessingland to the new school alongside the A12 is too dangerous for children aged as young as 11.

Originally, Suffolk County Council insisted that pupils living in Kessingland did not qualify for free transport and were expected to cycle or walk. Officials said a risk assessment on the route showed a bus was not necessary.

However, parent Martin Symonds carried out his own risk assessment and presented his findings to an appeals committee at the council's headquarters in Ipswich.

He said: 'The study I had prepared pointed out a number of hazards the children would face on their way to the school. I am pleased to say the committee took on board what we were saying and have agreed that buses are needed on the route,' he said.

Another of the campaigners, Emma Smith, was delighted by the county's U-turn.

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She said: 'This is not only a victory for parents and pupils who will be attending the new school in September but is also a victory for all the pupils who will be attending it.'

The parents have been supported in their campaign by local UKIP county councillor Bill Mountford and Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who joined parents and pupils to see the route for himself.

After walking the route last November and chatting to parents, Mr Aldous wrote to Graham Newman, the council's portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, expressing his concern and asking for the authority to review its decision not to provide free bus travel.'

'We are very grateful for all the support we received from Peter Aldous, Bill Mountford, members of Enraged Residents Against School Expansion (ERASE) and The Journal who have all helped our cause,' Ms Smith added.