A petition has been launched calling for plans to abolish free post-16 transport to schools to be axed.
The Gazette reported last month that Northumberland County Council’s Labour administration has proposed to charge 16 to 18-year-olds £450 to travel to school or college, as part of its budget plans for the new financial year, which are now out for consultation.
But the plans have met with anger from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
Last week, we reported that the Tories had dubbed the move a ‘teenage tax’.
The Labour group pointed out that the cost of the scheme has risen by 323 per cent in the face of a 30 per cent budget cut for the council.
Now the Liberal Democrats have stepped up their campaign. Julie Pörksen, who is standing to succeed Sir Alan Beith as the MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, has set up a petition calling on Labour to remove the charges, which she says reverses a decision made by the Lib Dems to scrap the charges in 2009.
Julie said: “I believe every young person has the right to attend school or college up to age 18 for free. This basic right should be regardless of where they live, or how much money their parents have. Everyone should have the same opportunity to get a good education.
“Liberal Democrats believe that everyone should have the opportunity to get on in life and the education you can access is key.
“Labour’s plans mean that in future, in rural areas, some young people may be deprived of this opportunity.
“When I discussed the issue with young people going home from the Duchess’s Community School in Alnwick, many were incredulous that the council was considering charging for their school buses.
“I hope young people, their parents and teachers from across the county will join my campaign and sign the petition to persuade Labour to scrap their plans to charge for school transport.”
You can sign the Lib-Dem petition at www.berwicklib dems.org.uk