A controversial decision to bring back travel charges for Northumberland students in post-16 education is to stand after a bid to get it reviewed narrowly failed.
Northumberland County Council’s policy board’s recent decision to charge its young people going to schools and colleges for transport will not be referred back to it for reconsideration after a motion from the Conservative opposition group seeking that course of action was defeated today by 34 votes to 30.
Charges were scrapped by the Liberal Democrats when they ran the council in 2008.
Yet the Labour run council’s board recently decided to bring back fees, of in some cases £600, blaming multi-million pound Government cuts.
The decision provoked an angry response from parents, pupils and opposition councillors who accused the council of discriminating against families in rural areas, with over 1,200 joining a Facebook group and protests staged outside an Alnwick school last month and at Seahouses earlier this.
The issue has even reached the House of Commons with David Cameron and senior minister Eric Pickles joining in the criticism of the council.
A further protest was staged outside an extraordinary meeting of the council this morning, attended by scores of parents and children, bearing banners.
And after a four-hour meeting, with questions from members of the public and councillors and a lengthy debate, the Tory motion was narrowly defeated.
Afterwards, Elisabeth Lamont, 16, from Rothbury, who asked a question during the meeting about how she faces having to pay £770 to get to King Edward VI High School at Morpeth while her friends from the town get there for free, voiced her disappointment.
“I think it is unfair. I think education is important and I really value it that I get the chance to go to school for free.”