Opposition parties unite for call-in of Suffolk school transport decision
- Credit: ARCHANT
A formal challenge has been lodged against plans to cut back on free school transport in Suffolk.
Opposition parties at Suffolk County Council have joined forces to challenge the decision to go ahead with the proposed cuts which was made on Tuesday.
Councillors from the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group have called-in the decision raising a host of issues with how the decision was made.
In their 22-page challenge, opponents say they cannot see how the savings will be made, criticise lack of clarity of who will assess the changes and cited a host of 'deliberately misleading statements'.
It has also emerged that the Consultation Institute was only commissioned during the pre-consultation phase, and had no involvement in any of the process thereafter – including an analysis and recommendation from the data – despite suggestions it was involved.
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Jack Abbott, Labour's education spokesman who proposed the call-in, said: 'How the cabinet can ignore all the holes in this policy proposal and railroad it through is a complete mystery to me.
'The strength of feeling across all the opposition groups is clear and this issue transcends party politics. This ill-thought through, poorly formulated policy decision must be reversed to ensure educational attainment in Suffolk is not negatively impacted by this decision.'
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A formal call-in must be made within 48 hours of the decision, and requires the council's monitoring officer to assess whether the decision was fair and justified. If the challenge is upheld it will go to scrutiny committee for discussion.
Andrew Stringer, leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group, said: 'It is simply staggering that the Conservative cabinet have agreed these changes on such a weak business case.
'We cannot stand by and watch as more children are likely to be injured or worse as a direct result of this move, we need a rethink.
'The report and financial modelling is inaccurate, incomplete and fundamentally flawed, I cannot see how this decision can be justified.'
Gordon Jones, education cabinet member, said: 'Call-ins are part of the county council's democratic process.
'The council's monitoring officer will now assess the validity of the call-in against criteria set out in the council's constitution.
'He will make his decision within the next few days.'