Norfolk student transport subsidy plan

Students could be given pre-pay smartcards under new plans put forward to save cash on transport subsidies.

It is one of a number of ideas from sixth form leaders and council staff following the reduction in post-16 subsidies by Norfolk County Council.

Last October the county council proposed completely removing the subsidy, but following large student protests they agreed to continue to subsidise the service, but at a reduced rate.

A working group, made up of college and sixth form leaders and council staff, was set up and has come up with several ideas to save money and their are now asking for student views.

The proposals include:

• Identifying the student routes and streamlining transport services to reduce costs

• Creating a pay-as-you-go 'smartcard' for students to reduce administration costs

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• Changing the distance for students to qualify for free transport from three miles to five miles

• Getting students to volunteer to help vulnerable young people to get to college by supporting on public transport so they do not have to rely on taxis.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for Children's Services at Norfolk County Council, said: 'We recognise the importance of post-16 transport in ensuring young people can access further education and have a choice of what and where to study. 'However, this is a considerable annual spend on a discretionary area and we had to look it as part of our budget proposals, with such considerable savings to find. We listened to the views of those who responded to the Big Conversation and were able to maintain a subsidy but we need to ensure that the service being provided is as efficient as possible and delivers the best value for money for Norfolk's taxpayers.

'We want to ensure that we can keep costs as low as possible for students and their parents, which is why we have been working so closely with the colleges to come up with ideas that could save money.

'We really need to hear what students think about these ideas as their opinions and support will be crucial in making any changes a success.'

The consultation will run until Thursday, July 7 and will ask students, parents and carers and young people's groups which ideas they think should be considered further.

Detailed proposals will then be developed for Norfolk County Council cabinet to consider in the autumn.

To join the consultation go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/studenttransport.

You can request a paper copy of the survey by contacting Vanda Graff on 01603 223391, e-mailing vanda.graff@norfolk.gov.uk or downloading it at http://tinyurl.com/6bkh48s

You can also comment on the Facebook discussion forum www.facebook.com/post16transport.

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