Students march on county hall

Hundreds of students marched on County Hall today in a final bid to keep their subsidised bus travel.

Hundreds of students marched on County Hall today in a final bid to keep their subsidised bus travel.

Students travelled in from across Norfolk for a final lobby of education bosses over the proposals to cut subsidised fares for over-16s, with fears rising that young academics will not be able to afford to stay on at colleges.

However, the county council, which is discussing the cuts today, said the move would save the taxpayer almost £900,000.

City College Norwich's Students' Union president Jonathan Lovatt said: “We've taken this action to stop the county council from withdrawing bus pass subsidy and depriving at least 5,000 young people in Norfolk from participating in Post-16 education.”

Changes are proposed which would mean a 50pc rise in travel charges for most students - more than £100 per year.

Hairdressing student Alex Coleman, 17, of Longwater Lane, Costessey, said: “I think it's a travesty students are going to get charged more for travelling to college.”

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Great Yarmouth College Students' Union President Amy Fisher said the turnout at the march was very encouraging.

She said: “It's an outrage to cut transport for students aged between 16 and 19. Very few families can afford equipment, let alone transport.”

Norfolk County Council previously proposed cuts to the service and in December it proposed to withdraw all transport subsidy, but later changed its mind.

The county council's cabinet is being asked to agree to policy changes at a meeting today. The changes will mean the level of subsidy and charges will be recalculated each year in April.

More than 2,800 people expressed their views as part of a 14-week consultation on the proposals, with about half in favour of the new increased charge.

The council said the changes would save council tax payers nearly £900,000, but it would still be running a heavily subsided service, and one more generous than many other councils in the country including Suffolk and Essex.