Schools Minister to investigate post-16 transport

Julie Porksen and Schools Minister David Laws.
Julie Porksen and Schools Minister David Laws.

Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws has promised to investigate the issue of transport for post-16 students.

Northumberland Lib Dem campaigner Julie Pörksen travelled to Westminster this week to meet up with Mr Laws to ask him to look at changing the law on post-16 transport.

Julie has been campaigning on behalf of all young Northumberland residents and their families to keep free post-16 transport since the Labour council’s proposals to charge for transport first came to light at Christmas.

Julie Pörksen said: “Despite Northumberland’s Labour council promising me they would consider the petition of almost 1,000 signatures I submitted alongside the consultation, I was very skeptical that the Labour council would keep free transport. I have been working to try to change the law since the spring and was pleased to be able to explain the issues specific to Northumberland and other rural counties in a full and frank meeting with David Laws.

“David was particularly interested in the dilemmas that face young people where there is no public transport, or where, in areas such as Berwick, the train is the only viable option due to distance and I am pleased he has committed to investigate the issue of post-16 transport more thoroughly.”

Mr Laws said: “I have had a constructive discussion with Julie Pörksen regarding post-16 transport. I shall be investigating the specific issues of needing to use trains to access education for students in areas like Berwick and also the various transport solutions with regard to commercial bus services and local authority provided school buses.

“With the school leaving age rising, it is vitally important that we give all young people the ability to access the post-16 course that is right for them.”

As reported on the Gazette website, the Labour administration defeated a challenge to their policy to withdraw the free post-16 transport policy started by the previous Lib Dem-run council at an extraordinary meeting yesterday.