Student bus cut fears

Students in Suffolk could become the latest victims of budget cuts after it emerged that secret discussions to cut school transport subsidies for 16 to 18-year-olds are under way.

Students in Suffolk could become the latest victims of budget cuts after it emerged that secret discussions to cut school transport subsidies for 16 to 18-year-olds are under way.

About a quarter of the 10,345 students of that age group in education in the county are likely to be left forking out hundreds of pounds in travel every year if the policy gets the go-ahead.

Currently, 2,200 students across Suffolk pay about £300 a year for school transport, with the remaining £300 being met by Suffolk County Council, but as part of ongoing budget cuts the council is trying to reduce its £16m school transport budget.

Sources have revealed "substantial" further savings need to be made and council chiefs are holding confidential meetings to discuss the possibility of axing post-16 travel subsidies.

Axing subsidies could save in excess of £600,000, with teenagers and parents footing the bill.

The Labour group has slammed the "tax on A-levels". Graham Manuel, Labour's roads and transport spokesman, said: "Every parent wants their children to have the opportunity to study hard and get on in life."

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A council spokesman said: "In February we reviewed home-to-school transport as part of the budget process. A policy development panel was set up to look at all aspects of the transport service provided to pupils, particularly areas of expenditure due to budget restraints. The findings will be going to cabinet in April 2008."

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