MP Sir Alan Beith has tabled an early-day motion in Parliament calling for other MPs to condemn the axing of free transport for post-16 students in Northumberland.
The motion, which was tabled yesterday, also calls on Northumberland County Council to reverse its decision and the Government to review its national policy on post-16 transport.
The current guidance from the Department for Education states that ‘local authorities have a duty to prepare and publish an annual transport policy statement specifying the arrangements for the provision of transport or otherwise that the authority considers it necessary to make to facilitate the attendance of all persons of sixth-form age receiving education or training’.
However, in terms of funding, ‘local authorities and their partners may use other sources of funding [outside Government grants and council revenue] to support these costs where appropriate’.
Sir Alan’s motion reads: “That this House condemns the decision of the Northumberland County Council Labour administration to scrap free travel for post-16 students travelling long distances to and from school or college from September 2014 and replace it with charges ranging from £600 a year for council-provided transport to the full adult fare of £3,000 to £4,000 a year for students using public transport services, such as those travelling from Berwick-upon-Tweed to colleges in Newcastle; notes that this will have a damaging effect on the education and career prospects of many of the county’s young people, particularly in rural and remote areas, will greatly increase the cost of living for families with teenagers and, with the leaving age rising to 18, will discriminate heavily against students from poor areas and their families; and calls on Northumberland County Council to reverse its decision and the Government to review national policy on support for post-16 students’ travel costs.”