Transport policy up for consultation

Residents are to be consulted over plans to change the county’s post-16 transport policy.

At present, Northumberland County Council provides free transport for 16 to 19-year-old students.

However, the local authorty said this costs the council £3.3m a year.

And the number of students claiming free transport has increased from 800 to more than 3,500 over the past six years.

Now residents are being asked to take part in a consultation which gives three proposed options.

These are:

• Withdraw the current travel scheme completely;

• Re-introduce a charge for transport;

• Put a limit on what transport costs the council will pay.

People are also encouraged to put forward their own alternative suggestions.

Coun Ian Swithenbank, policy board member for streetcare and environment, said: “We are looking at a range of options for the post-16 transport scheme and we want everyone to have the chance to give us their views before any decisions are made.

“However, even at this early stage, we are committed to putting measures in place to protect some of our most vulnerable groups such as students with special educational needs, as well as students from low income families.”

Currently the scheme provides free transport for post-16 students living more than three miles from the nearest further education provider of their chosen course or a similar one.

Transport is normally provided for two years of further education study, and may be extended for students with special educational needs.