Northumberland County Council’s Labour leadership has accused Lib Dems of contradicting their coalition partners in their opposition to the school transport cut.
Following some Lib Dems’ calls for the public to make official complaints to the Department of Education over the axing of free travel for students in post 16 education in encourage intervention, Labour says a letter sent of behalf of Prime Minister David Cameron claims the policy should be made in Northumberland not Whitehall.
The letter from a senior DoE official said the controversial decision to remove the subsidy for the start of this school year was a “local decision” and it would not “be right to require authorities to meet every student’s individual transport needs”.
Labour leaders have previously insisted their hands were forced by a vastly reduced settlement from the Government, and claim the new policy will save the council more than £3 million over the course of this council term.
A Labour group spokesman said: “This is a pretty cynical ruse by opposition councillors to stretch their party political campaign to derail a lawful policy of the authority.
“Opposition councillors and political hopefuls have maintained the disgraceful silence while their Government slashes Northum berland’s grant and yet they’re happy to mislead parents.”
The issue will be discussed once more this afternoon when Northumberland County Council holds its full council meeting when Conservative member for Wooler Anthony Murray tables a motion calling for a report to be presented to members in December on how the decision has been implemented and what effect it has had on the educational prospects of young people.
There will also be questions put to the council cabinet by members of the Parents Against Decision to Scrap the Post-16 School Transport campaign.
The Labour spokesman added: “Opposition politicians had an opportunity to call in the policy when it was discussed and agreed by the council’s Policy Board yet they failed to do that.
“Now they’re resorting to unnecessary extraordinary meetings and posturing motions which will only end up costing the tax payer more.”
The policy includes a review of its effectiveness after 12 months.
Opponents of the policy claims it unfairly penalises young people in rural areas, leading to charges of in some cases £600 for those going to schools with sixth forms or colleges,