Angry parents are urging the county council to “be mature” and U-turn its decision to axe free transport for post 16s to educational facilities.
Northumberland County Council voted to scrap its free transport scheme for pupils over 16 years of age to a place of further education last month, in a move which will save the administration £2.4million.
From September 1 students will pay the full cost where public transport is available, or £600 a year to travel on council contracted school transport.
Council bosses say they were forced to bring back charges as they have to remove £32m from the authority’s budget in 2014/15 and a further £100m over the next three years.
But furious parents in the rural north of the county say their children are being penalised for staying in education, and are calling on the administration to change its mind.
‘Parents against the decision to scrap Post 16 transport’, a pressure group opposing the plans, has already staged a demonstration outside the Duchess Community High School in Alnwick, and is now circulating a petition demanding a rethink over the cuts.
The group, which has over 1100 members on its facebook site, is urging people in the county to sign the petition.
It reads: “We oppose this plan and continue to call on our councillors to change their minds. They need to review where they can find savings from other parts of the budget, like staff car allowances, automatic incremental pay increases or empty property maintenance costs.
“It is unacceptable to charge our young people to get to school or college. They are the future of our country and by taxing their travel costs Labour are cutting off our poorest students from future careers and economic success for UK plc.
“Post 16 students should not have to pay for transport to study for their future careers and livelihoods.”
Members of the pressure group had been planning another demonstration at Northumberland County Council’s full council meeting which was due to be held at county hall yesterday, but the meeting was cancelled due to “lack of business”.
Instead, members of the group planned to travel to Morpeth in a bid to meet with council leader Grant Davey to discuss the situation.
Jonathan Lloyd, a parent from Wooler, said: “People care about this and their futures depend on it. We are parents - we are old enough to understand the maturity required to make a U-Turn.”