Post-16 transport proposals under more consideration

Berwick-upon-Tweed train station.

Berwick-upon-Tweed train station.

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A decision on whether to introduce controversial post-16 transport charges will not be made until after the budget is set.

The proposal was included as part of Northumberland County Council’s budget consultation process but the authority has decided to carry out a separate public consultation exercise.

A range of options are being examined, including the introduction of a £450 fee for bus and rail passes to college.

The proposal has been met with anger by students from the Berwick area who currently access courses at Newcastle College. Berwick Town Council has also voiced its concerns.

Councillor Grant Davey, council leader, said: “On post-16 transport we are now looking at a range of options which will be subject to a separate public consultation exercise.

“No final decisions have been made on this but Northumberland is currently the only council that funds it in this way, and the ultimate aim must be to encourage and enable students to study at their local establishment.”

Currently 3,600 students receive free travel which is an increase of more than 300 per cent in student numbers in the last five years. The council now provides free travel for 51 per cent of post-16 students and the cost of this has risen to £3.3million in 2013/14.

The council has also agreed to re-examine proposed reductions to the youth service which sparked concerns during the budget consultation period.

“This review will look at whether the savings targets could be achieved in a different way and will include more specific consultation with young people,” said Coun Davey.

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