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Last-ditch fight for student transport

Parents in Longhorsley who have started a petition objecting to proposals by Northumberland County Council to change post-16 transport arrangements. They are with local councillor Glen Sanderson. GM039428

Parents in Longhorsley who have started a petition objecting to proposals by Northumberland County Council to change post-16 transport arrangements. They are with local councillor Glen Sanderson. GM039428

Parents are making a late bid to rally opposition to proposed funding cuts to post-16 student transport.

Northumberland County Council provides free transport for students living at least three miles from the college course of their choice, but it may withdraw the scheme as it faces budget cuts of £130million over four years.

The move could see students hit with a £450 annual bill for transport.

A 931-name petition has been submitted by campaigner Julie Porksen against the plans, and now parents in Longhorsley are on a drive to raise awareness of the issue.

Mum Julia Young said: “A lot of parents might have looked at this and thought that because it is post-16 transport their kids are too young, not appreciating the implications that it will follow through to their kids.

“It will have a huge impact on families. The cost is one thing, but you have got to know your kids are safe from the time they leave home to when they get back. It’s the travel time that’s risky and it could be even more unsettled with these changes.

“They could also put kids off continuing their education. Some families are well-off and can afford transport costs, but others can’t and it could lead to inequality. I’m not really into politics, I just want the best for our kids.”

Longhorsley member Glen Sanderson said: “It is really important that anyone who feels strongly about this issue makes contact with the council through the website and has their say. The council should be doing everything it can to help people get a good education and if it costs a little bit to do that then it is a good way to spend taxpayers’ money.”

A Labour Group spokesman said: “Post-16 transport costs have soared, with a 323 per cent increase since the introduction of free post-16 travel, but roughly 50 per cent of students travelling choose to study outside Northumberland.

“In 2008 it was a Labour Government that gave the county the capacity to make travel free and in 2014 it is a ConDem Government that has slashed the council budget by a third. Our consultation is based on the reality of the budget situation.”

 

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