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Students forced to pay for transport

[Thursday 09 March 2006]

Students in further education across North Yorkshire are to be made to pay for school transport.

The County Council has approved recommendations to charge 16-18 year olds who live more than three miles from their place of education.

North Yorkshire will now join the 95 per cent of UK authorities that already charge for school transport services.

Councillors insist a recent consultation demonstrates that residents understand the need to make savings but that the £10 a week rate used elsewhere in the country was considered too much; North Yorkshire students will pay £8 a week.

County Councillor John Watson, the Council's executive member for schools, said: "It is regrettable that we have had to impose any charge at all.

"Until now we had been one of only four local authorities in the UK to provide free home to school transport for 16 - 18 year olds, even though it costs us over £34 per student per week.

"But now we have had to bow to the inevitable and make a charge."

The new charge is expected to save the Authority around £800 000 annually and without this saving, education bosses insist there would have to be much more painful cuts to services.

Some councillors however, have expressed concern at the decision - the Liberal Democrat group say they'll ask the council to reconsider the policy.

Mr Watson added: "Of course I understand that £8 per student per week will not be easy for some families but I would emphasise that all students from households with an income of less than £30,000 pounds a year are eligible for support in meeting transport costs through the Education Maintenance Allowance."

The charge will apply to students who are beginning a post-16 course in September this year.

Prospective students can get an education maintenance allowance application pack by phoning the assessment and payment team on 0808 1016219

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