Department for Education asks for R4U help in contacting affected families as part of investigation into Essex County Council’s failure to provide school transport
As part of the ongoing investigation into Essex County Council, R4U has been asked by the Department for Education for help in contacting families adversely affected by the refusal of free school transport by ECC. R4U asks those families to contact it using the link below.
ECC have made changes to school transport that have affected many families, leaving some with shock bills in the thousands. ECC had provided transport to any catchment area school, but they changed provision to just the nearest school, even if it was full and the pupils couldn’t get in.
R4U argued that this change did not meet Department of Education guidelines and referred ECC to the DfE who started an investigation. The DfE has now asked R4U for help in identifying families affected by the changes; R4U is asking those families to immediately get in touch.
Neil Hargreaves is one of R4U’s district councillors for Newport and has been spearheading the campaign for residents. He said: “R4U has been working on behalf of affected families since ECC removed school transport from many families across Uttlesford. Department for Education rules are pretty clear that ECC should provide transport to ‘the nearest … school with available places’ and so are undertaking an investigation of ECC at our request. ECC has defended their decision, but it now seems that they are dragging their heels in responding to the DfE’s request for more detail, so the DfE has come directly to R4U to help them build a list of affected families. We urge families that are affected to urgently contact us.”
“It would seem that the ECC leadership are not happy answering questions from parents, R4U or the DfE. This is especially troubling as the existing Conservative Essex Councillor for the Stansted Division, Ray Gooding, is responsible for education at ECC and pushed these changes, which are caused in part by his failure to provide enough school places. But he has refused to reverse the changes and instead sought to defend his policy on the bizarre grounds that parents have been told about it – but that is not the point. Once again we ask families to contact us if they have been affected by school transport changes.”
About Residents for Uttlesford
Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties.
R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). It is the fastest growing local political movement in its district. In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In 2017 it solidified its position with a further by-election gain with 60% of the vote. In the May 2019 Local Elections R4U gained majority control of UDC winning two-thirds of the seats. The result delivered the biggest loss of seats by any UK Conservative controlled council in the UK.
R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.
R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.
Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.