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Home Sheerness News Article
Parents still have a few hours to comment on a Kent County Council (KCC) consultation on changes to the Freedom Pass.
Last month, we reported how the authority was forced to abandon its plans to scrap the scheme, which gives children unlimited travel, after widespread protests.
It has instead decided to double the price to £200 and limit its use to between 6am and 7pm, Monday to Friday.
In another major change, the council says it will look at reducing the cost of the post-16 pass to £400 from £520.
A four-week consultation on the proposals is due to finish today, but the authority is facing renewed pressure over the issue after the opposition Liberal Democrats at County Hall launched a fresh petition, calling on them to extend the scheme to 16 to 19-year-olds.
Jochen Bouman, of Queenborough Road, Halfway, has three children who from September will all be attending The Westlands School in Sittingbourne.
He says is will be near on impossible to find the money to cover the £600 it will cost him to get the passes at the increased rate.
The 39-year-old, who works at Maidstone Borough Council, says although he drives nearby every day to work, it’s too early and late to do the school run.
He says many people who are on benefits and don’t necessarily have the pressures of employment can get a concession on the price, which he describes as working people being penalised.
“Sadly on the Island we don’t have a KCC funded secondary school – if they can’t even fund the travel to get to a KCC funded school they are playing totally into the hands of the private sector,” he said.
“My children have worked hard to get to Westlands and any ambitious parent will try and get their children into a good school.
“It’s a 100% increase in price and we are losing advantages of it, like not being able to use it in August.
“I think the proposal is badly thought out.”
Mr Bouman has responded to the consultation, suggesting KCC at least offers some sort of monthly payment or direct debit scheme to spread the cost.
To have your say, go to www.consultations.kent.gov.uk/consult.ti/travelpass/consultationhome
To sign the e-petition, go to epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/60369
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