Northumberland axes over-16s free school transport

Northumberland County Hall Northumberland County Council said many other councils had made similar cuts

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A council has voted to axe free transport for pupils over 16 in Northumberland in a bid to save £2.4m.

More than 100 parents gathered outside the county council's offices in Morpeth to protest over the plans.

But after a four hour meeting the Labour-run council voted in favour of the change.

Those against the move said some families in the rural county would not be able to send children to the school or college of their choice.

The council said many pupils were being driven to school in taxis, costing it more than £900 per week.

'Difficult times'

Children with special needs or from low income families who attend their nearest school or college will still get free travel, it said.

The council - which needs to make savings of £65m over the next two years - said it was one of the few county councils nationwide to provide free transport for 16-to-19-year-old students, but could no longer afford it.

Council Leader Grant Davey said: "When this scheme was introduced there were around 800 students who needed support. That grew to nearly 4,000.

"In difficult times, we need to be focusing our resources on those who are in greatest need, not supporting taxi rides to school, where there are other forms of transport."

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