Parents are urged to get passes

Families with children going into post-16 education are being urged to apply for bus passes to ensure they can get a place on the school bus at the start of term.

With only a week to go, the council staff who have to process applications need time to do so and have received very few to date.

After a consultation earlier in the year, Northumberland County Council decided to charge young people in post-16 education £600 to use the school transport system.

Those who are eligible to use the school bus, and for those on very low incomes who meet the strict criteria set by councillors, they need to send in their forms so that the council officers can get their passes sorted.

Conservative parliamentary candidate for Berwick, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said she is concerned the effect the policy will have for students who have chosen vocational courses outside Northumberland because there is not an appropriate course in-county.

Speaking after a meeting with Northumberland County Council officers last week, she said: “This change will mean that young people, in rural areas in particular, will be discriminated against as many have to travel long distances.

“Many of these now feel that they have no choice but to pull out of further education opportunities because of the travel costs involved.

“Council officers are trying to implement new policy – however flawed – and need families to send in their application forms so that bus passes can be processed.

“The council has agreed to be flexible on the £200 up-front payment which has been demanded by the Labour policy, so I urge parents to contact the council with the application form.”