The rift in the council chamber over transport for post-16 students continued yesterday as a bid to review the new policy later this year was thrown out.
Coun Anthony Murray, ward member for Wooler, submitted a motion to the full county-council meeting, calling for a report to be presented to the December 2014 meeting ‘to update us in a comprehensive way on how the decision has been implemented and what effect it has had on the educational prospects of our young people’.
Presenting his motion, he said: “This is not a protest, I have done my fair share of protesting, but this is a request for information.”
Seconding the motion, Bamburgh ward member Coun John Woodman added that whatever people may think of the policy, ‘its implementation was, in necessity, rushed’.
“We need good information and access to education is important enough to come to full council,” he said.
But Coun Grant Davey, leader of the council, said that the policy board’s decision was already being monitored via the correct channels and that the motion was trying to change due process.
Fellow Labour councillor Bernard Pidcock, chairman of the children’s services scrutiny committee, agreed, saying that the motion was irrelevant and that December was too early to get a full picture.
Meanwhile, the county council is reassuring parents that it is dealing promptly with applications for post-16 transport. Up to the start of the new term, approximately 500 new applications have been processed for post-16 transport and around 300 of these, or 60 per cent, have been approved. Around 200 applications were rejected for a variety of reasons.
More than 1,200 Year 13 students have had their transport arranged and passes have been issued.
The school transport team is dealing with 150 new applications received since last Wednesday and has put additional resources into dealing with them over the summer.