Berwick candidate Julie Pörksen seeks views on post-16 transport

Julie PorksenThe issue of transport so that over 16s can get to school and college is one close to Berwick Liberal Democrat PPC Julie Pörksen’s heart. She told us why earlier this Summer:

In the eighties, being a rural Northumbrian kid, I used to get the school bus to Ponteland, and just stayed on it for sixth form. Those wanting to go to college had to find their own way. Raising the age of participation and encouraging parity between a sixth form and a college education can only be a positive step for the opportunities and career and life choices for our young people.

If we are not to discriminate between 16-18 year olds in urban and rural areas across the whole country we must guarantee their rights to access free state education – and free transport is an integral part of that access.

So let’s be about action not just words – lets change the law and actually enable everyone to get on in life.

Julie has submitted motions and amendments to the last two conferences. While these didn’t make it through, she has secured the commitment of David Laws to help find a solution to the problems she has raised as the Northumberland Gazette reports:

Schools Minister David Laws has made a commitment to work with Julie to find a solution and had their first session on this issue recently.

Following the meeting, Julie said: “David Laws said that he needs me to work alongside him on this issue. My experience of working with parents and young people, using school buses myself, being a mum and a school governor means that I can understand all the issues and can help devise really practical solutions.

“The Minister does appreciate that Northumberland is so rural that the transport problems are some of the worst in the country.

“During the Lib Dem conference, I heard from people across the country, not just in Northumberland, whose children are having their opportunities limited by the cost of transport, so I am pleased post-16 transport is getting national priority.

“Before our next meeting, David Laws has asked me to report on the types of transport available, distances and educational establishments available to Northumbrian students so that we can devise the practical solutions needed. If any young person, parent, school or transport provider wants to contribute their view, please contact me and I will add to the evidence I already have.

Julie was supported in her campaign by Dorset PPC VIkki Slade so this is clearly an issue that affects the whole country. If you have any evidence which supports Julie’s case for provision of free transport, please add it in the comments below and we’ll be sure to make her and David Laws aware of it.

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  • The question I ask is whether we actually want young people to use public transport or whether we just want to be seen to help. From some brief web searching it does seem that there are many schemes across the country that offer discounted transport to under 25’s and specifically to those in education.

    Personally, I would rather see people having to pay for a travelcard – as they do at present in order to qualify for heavily discounted transport. Because once someone pays for something, they tend to use it and hence we start developing a whole new generation of public transport users who will perhaps think twice about having a car…

  • Geoff Hinchliffe 18th Oct '14 - 8:17am

    Here in rural Norfolk there are many places where there is no viable public transport available, so a further practical scheme exists, run under the auspices of the County Council, whereby the student can hire a moped. See

  • @Geoff – Thanks for that link – very useful contribution to the discussion.
    Given a school bus place in my area costs between 40~80 GBP a month, the pricing of the Norfolk scheme – at £25 a week, for the extra it gives, doesn’t seem excessive.

  • A family in the Waterside are just above qualification for inome supplement. The daughter’s travel to Brockenhurst in the centre of the new forest costs £900 a year. Some subsidy was received from the College (half) so please will you justify where they can find the £450 for the education of their child./ Talking about them “appreciating it if they have to pay for it” is toryism at its most disgraceful! Shame on you

  • Transport for young people in full time education is one of those subjects that points up just one of those areas where “free market” economics only works for the rich.
    If the state requires people under 18 to be in full time education, those young people should not be charged for the necessity of travelling to and from their college or school.
    Living in London my daughter had a free Oyster Card until she was 18 because she was in full time education. This gave her free transport across London on bus and tube. London is rich in terms of pubic transport. So the young person in London has a double benefit every day over their rural cousin.
    Like brianD I totally reject the ideology that leads to people saying like Roland says — “..once someone pays for something, they tend to use it ..”. I have not noticed any failure to use public transport in London as a result of teenagers getting a free Oyster Card, quite the opposite.
    The false ideology of “…once someone pays for something, they tend to use it ..” was once applied to NHS dentistry. But when many dentists “went private” and many areas were left without NHS provision readily available — the numbers of people making regular trips for dental check-ups and treatment went down markedly. This was followed by a decline in adult dental health, and later by the inevitable rise in demand for more intensive treatment which now costs the nation more to treat
    The ideology of “..once someone pays for something, they tend to use it ..” is superficially attractive . Please do not apply it of the necessity of educating young people. The rich already have too many head-starts when it comes to educating their children.

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