New College Stamford to fund student transport

A COLLEGE has promised to run its own transport after Lincolnshire County Council opted to remove some services and double the cost of others.

The council’s executive approved changes to the post-16 transport policy on Tuesday. The cost of travel to further education colleges and sixth forms in the county will almost double within two years, from £202 to £390.

And from September students will be transported only to their nearest institution, defined along district boundaries.

This would mean the 300-plus students New College Stamford currently recruits from South Holland would have to go to Boston College.

New College Stamford principal Andrew Patience has promised to give back to students the choice the council has taken away.

He said: “If the policy changes mean that some students are unable to get to Stamford, then I will be providing transport for them.

“This is not just in the interest of my college – I would rather students had a free choice of where they want to attend.

“Students should be able to choose the course and college that is appropriate to them If we are going to put our own transport on it would be much better if we can work with the county council to save on public spending.”

The council says it needs to save £1m from its home to school and college transport budget in 2011 to 12, reducing it from £29.7m to £28.6m.

But a public consultation found that 92.7 per cent of parents disagreed with the post-16 fee increase, while 86.8 per cent opposed transporting students to their nearest college only.

The changes follow the government’s withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance, which up to 60 per cent of post-16 students in Lincolnshire currently receive.

Coun Patricia Bradwell, executive councillor for children’s services, said: “In this difficult financial climate, the county council, like all other authorities, has to make substantial savings covering many areas of service.

“However we have listened to the consultation and are phasing in the increased charges over two years.

“The council will still be subsidising this non-statutory service for students by a substantial rate of 60 per cent.”