The leader of Northumberland County Council has called on post-16 policy protesters to stop “misleading” people into believing that the new policy can be overturned if they “simply keep on complaining”.
Angry parents have been urging the council to reverse the decision made earlier this year to reintroduce transport to education charges - full fair on public transport or £600 a year on council-contracted services - for students over the age of 16 from this September.
But Councillor Grant Davey said: “We’ve been working hard to help introduce this policy and believe it is unsettling to parents trying to plan for the future by suggesting that protesting will help to overturn the decision.
“Councillors had an opportunity to call in this decision and did not do so. That would have been the point where the policy could have been challenged.
“What’s more, the Government has written to people and pointed them to the 16-19 Bursary Funds held by schools that should assist those in need to access educational transport. Importantly, the government has not offered to fund the cost as it is not a statutory function.
“Every complaint made takes up parents’ valuable time and our resources to deal with.”
Coun Davey said that the decision to reintroduce charges was made following “extensive research” into other councils’ policies and an appraisal of the overall cost in the context of “very difficult budget decisions”.
“Like every home in the county, we have to balance our budget and make our money go as far as possible,” he added.
“This is a fact of life we all have to live with and no amount of complaining will change that.”