Thursday, 23 February 2012

Government Backs Lib Dems' Free Transport For Young People

MP Julian Huppert has won government support for Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats’ plan to provide free transport for young people to help them find education, training or work.

Transport Minister, Norman Baker told Parliament that he would urge Cambridgeshire County Council and other councils across the country to look very carefully at the idea.

His support came after Julian raised a question today (Thursday, February 23) in the House of Commons.

Julian said: “Liberal Democrat Councillors on Cambridgeshire County Council have proposed a fully funded scheme that would provide free public transport for 16-19-year-olds seeking education, employment or training. Would the minister support such a scheme and encourage Cambridgeshire and other councils to look very carefully at such an idea?”

Mr Baker said: “I certainly would, and I welcome this initiative. The clear reality is such  that some councils up and down the country are providing support for young people to get to education in a way that is better than some other councils.

“This is largely a matter for local authorities. Good practice is out there and should be replicated wherever possible.”

Cambridgeshire Lib Dems outlined their free transport plans in their alternative budget for the Tory-run Cambridgeshire County Council.

Julian said later: “The government’s recognition of the value of this scheme not only to young people in Cambridgeshire but across the country generally is testament to the hard work and thought that has gone into it from the county’s Lib Dems.

“We recognise that we must do everything we can to help our young people access education, training and work. That means removing hurdles such as expensive transport costs so that they can get to training placements and job interviews.

“This scheme has so much to recommend it and I hope Cambridgeshire Conservatives will look at it closely and realise how it could make all the difference to giving our young people a brighter future.”

Cambridgeshire Lib Dem Transport Spokesperson, Susan van de Ven, said: “I am delighted that the government has recognised the value of this scheme to our young people and the benefits it could bring nationally.

“Our young people are the future of this country but if they cannot find education, training or work our future is looking extremely bleak.

“We want to try to remove some of the problems that are holding them back and providing free transport will go some way to doing that. “