Post-16 concerns raised by Glendale Gateway Trust

Patsy Healey at the Wheatsheaf, Wooler

Patsy Healey at the Wheatsheaf, Wooler

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The Glendale Gateway Trust has written to Northumberland County Council expressing concern about the withdrawal of free transport for 16 to 19-year-old students.

The Wooler-based organisation is concerned that youngsters are obliged to be in education or training (if they haven’t got jobs) but the only places they can do this are Berwick, Alnwick or even further afield.

This could cost families with two over-16s as much as £1,200 a year.

In a letter to council leader Grant Davey and the two opposition group leaders, GGT chairman Patsy Healey said: “Glendale in particular is a remote rural area, which means that travel distances are substantial.

“Increasingly, these opportunities have been concentrated outside our area, and often a very long way outside. We appreciate that funds will be made available for those on the lowest incomes, but many are on incomes only just above this level, so paying for travel will generate real hardship.

“We are working energetically to promote the local economy more generally through the Rural Growth Network.

“Hopefully, in the long run our efforts, in partnership with others, on improving training opportunities for young people in our area, will create a win-win situation, with lower transport costs for young people and a richer supply of workers and businesses in our local economy.

“A cut at this stage seems counterproductive to the long term prospects of our area.

“We very much hope you will re-consider the decision recently made.”

The council is introduceing a £600 charge for post-16 transport from September onwards.

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