A campaign to stop a planned £450 a year charge and protect free travel for post-16 students in Northumberland has reached Westminster.
In the House of Lords on Thursday, Baroness Diana Maddock asked the Government to look at the impact free post-16 transport has on students attending college.
She emphasised the increase in numbers of students from Berwick attending college and sixth form when the then Liberal Democrat council introduced free transport.
“We have a very low level of take-up of further and higher education in this part of the country and I hope she will look at this because it increased the numbers of students who took up further education,” she said. “I hope that, like me, she is rather concerned that now the council is being run by Labour, it is proposing to do away with this.”
Local MP Sir Alan Beith is also discussing the proposals with Schools Minister David Laws.
Lib Dem campaigner Julie Pörksen has set up a petition against the proposed change which has 500 signatures.
Julie said: “It is just not acceptable that councils are not obliged to provide free transport for students after their GCSE year. With the leaving age rising to 18, most young people will have to go to school so it should be free.”
She added: “I am trying to change the law to protect the rights of young people in rural areas such as Northumberland to free access to education up to the age of 18. The first step in this is developing a motion for the Lib Dem Conference next week.
“The council’s consultation on Labour’s plans to charge for school transport is now live and I urge anyone who wants to protect free travel for 16-18 year olds to take part. The strength of feeling is high and about 500 residents have already signed my petition against the proposed charge. There is still a chance for people to sign the petition before it is presented to the Council through their petition scheme.”
Julie’s petition to save free travel to school or college for Northumberland’s post-16 students can be signed online at www.berwicklibdems.org.uk.