Parents continue fight as bus company announces new student fares

Protesters Jonathan Lloyd, Nadine Mallaburn and Allison Joynson at County Hall.
Protesters Jonathan Lloyd, Nadine Mallaburn and Allison Joynson at County Hall.

Yesterday’s county-council meeting may have been called off, but that didn’t stop three hardy parents from heading to County Hall to share their views on post-16 transport.

Protesters fighting the cuts to the scheme, which will mean sixth-form students will have to pay £600 or full public-transport charges to get to school or college, wanted to attend yesterday’s meeting en masse to protest the changes.

But while that didn’t happen and they weren’t able to speak to council leader Grant Davey, Jonathan Lloyd, from Wooler, Nadine Mallaburn, from Alnwick, and Allison Joynson, from Budle, did have a meeting arranged with Barry Rowland, executive director of local services, and Ruth Bendell, head of sustainable transport.

Meanwhile, bus firm Arriva North East announced yesterday that, from September 2014, they will introduce ‘new, great value fares for students across Northumberland’.

The tickets will be priced from £430 a year and will also offer students flexible payment options and the ability to travel at any time of day without restrictions during September to July.

Nick Knox, area managing director for Arriva North East, said: “It is really important that we make bus travel as accessible as possible for young people across the region. We have worked towards a solution that will ensure students in Northumberland will receive the best value on our services.”

Coun Ian Swithenbank, Northumberland County Council’s policy board member for streetcare and environment, said: “While we believe the changes in our policy are necessary, we understand the concerns of families in the county. We are working with education and transport providers to make sure students can continue to access post-16 educational opportunities. These new tickets from Arriva are very good news, and we are pleased to be working with them to get the best possible deals for post-16 students.”

New tickets will offer travel in six new student saver ticket zones across Northumberland – Berwick, Alnwick, Amble, Morpeth, Ashington, Hexham and Blyth Valley. Students will be able to purchase day, week, term and academic-year tickets. Further details will be publicised from mid July on the Arriva website.