A family is being forced to fork out around £80 a month so that their 16-year-old daughter is able to further her education.
Teenager Aimee Gilbert started at Bedford College last month, where she is studying A-levels in law, philosophy, psychology and English.
But Aimee, who lives in Cranfield with her parents and younger sister, has been told by the council that she is expected to pay all her travel costs to get her to and from coillege.
Angry mum Sarah, 34, says she has been told that students aged 16-plus, living in the Central Beds, can only receive subsidised travel costs if they are in receipt of benefits.
She said: “It’s ridiculous. I couldn’t believe it when they told us we couldn’t get any help. Both my husband and I are working parents, we always have been. £80 a month might not sound like a lot to some people, but it’s going to be a bit of a struggle for us.
“We have another daughter Ellie, who is only five, but we are now starting to think about her. We are considering moving so we don’t end up in this situation when she wants to go into sixth form.”
Sarah has now made an official complaint to Central Beds Council.
Aimee used to attend Wootton Upper School, but decided to change to Bedford College so she could study law as an A-level.
Sarah added: “Aimee was really looking forward to becoming independent. She wanted to get a part-time job and wanted to fund her travel costs herself. But now there is not way that she can bear the cost herself, so she has to rely on her mum and dad, which is something she really didn’t want to do.
Sarah says it is unfair of the council to not offer subsidised travel, as nearby Bedford Borough Council, offers subsidised travel to anyone aged 16-plus attending school or college.
She said: “I feel they are putting a message out that says it is easier to get something for nothing. Both my husband and I are working parents, we have never claimed benefits. Yet, you only get any financial help if you do claim benefits. How is that fair?”
After making an official complaint Sarah got in touch with Mid Beds MP Nadine Dorries, who brought up the family’s plight, and others, in the House of Commons during a debate on the increasing cost of fuel last week.
She said: “Today in Cranfield in my constituency I have students who cannot take their place at Bedford College because of the price of fuel.
“Lots of two families are going down to one car because the cost of fuel has gone up so much.”
Councillor Amanda Dodwell, deputy executive member for children’s service at Central Beds Council, said: “Following a recent public consultation, we revised our Post-16 Transport Policy for the academic year 2012/13.
“The policy continues to support our commitment to the most vulnerable, by providing free or subsidised transport for students living in families with a low income, those with medical or special needs and looked after children.
“For those students who do not meet any of these criteria, we are working with schools and colleges to promote other schemes which support parents and students with home to school transport.”
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Weather for Bedford
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
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Wind direction: North
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Wind direction: North west