Friday, 20 March 2015

Tax on School Children

Leslie Rowe, the Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Richmond, attended the Richmondshire Area Committee today (Wednesday 18 March 2015), to protest at the proposal to increase a tax on kids. "This tax takes the form of charges for travel to school or college, which had been proposed to increase from £480 to £550 a year. Also proposed is a charge of £380 for primary-school children aged 8 to 11. Compare this with the situation in Tory grandee Boris Johnson's London, where children can travel free on public transport." A North Yorkshire County Council report to the meeting pointed out that the September 2014 increase to £480 had led to a "much-reduced" take-up of post-16 transport. Green candidate Leslie Rowe pointed out the environmental impact of the thousands more car journeys now being taken by parents unwilling to pay those exorbitant charges. "This has increased the County's carbon footprint at a time when we are obliged by international agreements to reduce it." "Teaching problems at various schools, including Richmond, have also led to an increase in after-school revision and extra-curricular activities, so pupils miss the scheduled bus home," commented Mr Rowe. "If forced to pay, pupils should have the option of paying only for the journeys they actually take, especially where buses are running with empty spaces, because of the already reduced take up." During his statement to the committee Leslie Rowe acknowledged the leadership of Councillor John Blackie on this issue. "Although John Blackie and I are opponents in the parliamentary election I acknowledge that he has led the fight against school-bus charges in the County Council in recent months and we are as one in our opposition to this discrimination against local children. The council should fulfil its statutory duty to undertake an Equality Impact Assessment as soon as possible." "Although the proposal to increase the post-16 charge to £550 has been shelved until after the general election you can be sure it will be reintroduced once the election is over. This tax on children's education has been forced on North Yorkshire by the Tory and Lib Dem coalition austerity measures. As the Conservatives regard the Richmond constituency as a safe Tory seat they think they can impose this tax on kids with impunity. They would not dare to introduce such charges in more marginal urban areas such as London. This is discrimination against rural communities and they should not be allowed to get away with it." Promoted by Leslie Rowe on behalf of Richmond Constituency Green Party, c/o 73 Richmond Road, Brompton on Swale, Richmond, DL10 7HF

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