Rural students will suffer, say Tories

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Conservatives have expressed disappointment at Northumberland County Council’s decision to retain post-16 travel charges.

A vote to stop a £600 charge being introduced was defeated by four votes at an extraordinary general meeting on Friday.

Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland Conservatives, said: “It is disappointing that there was no mood from Labour for any form of compromise.

“It became apparent from the comments from the worried parents and their children attending the meeting that transport arrangements for the new term starting in September are still in a state of chaos. I will be working with parents and young people to find solutions to the very difficult situation which the council has put them in.”

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Berwick, has called on the council to rethink its policy.

She said: “The Labour council want to keep more students within the Northumberland schools catchment, and I am happy to work with schools to find ways to achieve that, as long as the educational opportunity for each child is met. Forcing families to pay £600 for a child to go to the local school regardless of whether that’s the right place for them makes no sense.”

“Now that post-16 education or training is a national standard, I will be raising this rural transport cost problem with the Secretary of State for Education to highlight the challenges for those families who are on low incomes and whose kids need that financial support to get to school.

“The enormous travel distances for those students, and the lack of available public transport options, leaves these kids massively disadvantaged compared to their urban counterparts.”

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