THE Labour Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville and Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble have called on the Government to scrap their plans to end the free bus travel for under-18s in London.
Co-signing a letter alongside the Chair of Hackney’s Youth Parliament to the Department for Transport, they highlight their concern that the decision will “have a disproportionate impact on the young people in Hackney, a borough which has the third-highest rate of child poverty in the country”.
The Tory Government forced the change on London as part of their bailout of TfL, despite the Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s mandate to keep TfL fares as low as possible.
Mayor Glanville and Deputy Mayor Bramble are calling on Hackney’s residents to sign a Labour Party petition to save free travel on TfL bus services for under-18s in London.
Mayor Philip Glanville said: “In a borough that puts sustainable transport first, our young people often rely on buses to get to school or college. Generations of young people have been able to benefit from the freedom this card brings. Hackney Labour wants to rebuild a better Hackney, where opportunity is accessible for all. But this scrap is a Tory tax on young Londoners at a time when Hackney’s families need support the most.”
Deputy Mayor Bramble
Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble said: “Free bus travel is a lifeline for so many of Hackney’s children and young people that rely on free ZipCards to get to school or college and get a good education. Without it, the Tories cannot claim they want equal opportunity for all.”
The full text of the letter is here:
Dear Baroness Vere,
We are writing to you to express our real concerns about the proposed plans to suspend free travel for under 18s. We feel that this will have a disproportionate impact on the young people in Hackney, a borough which has the third-highest rate of child poverty in the country and which has been disproportionately impacted by the devastating effects of Covid-19 – particularly poorer health outcomes and increased levels of child poverty.
This measure would significantly restrict the choices young people could make regarding their education and engagement with extracurricular activities, particularly coming at a time when young people have spent months at home with limited access to education, health and leisure opportunities at such a critical time in their development.
This concern is not about encouraging young people to use transport when there are other options available. Far from it. As a borough, Hackney is very committed to encouraging young people to stay healthy; this includes promoting walking and cycling to school. In fact, we have plans for additional school streets and cycle routes in the borough, many of which will be in place for September. This concern is fundamentally about ensuring that every young person has equal access to opportunities to reach their full potential.
The views of young people in Hackney are critical to how we run our services, and they are shocked that this is being proposed, without any consultation. Members of our Youth Parliament, the chair of which is co-signatory to this letter, have confirmed through discussions with their peers and families, that access to free transport is very important for them.
Parents/carers state that it helps keep their children safe, allows them to engage in activities that otherwise they may not be able to afford if they had to pay for the transport, and also it may limit their ability to maintain relationships with friends and family.
Young people and their families/carers have made decisions about which schools or colleges to attend, or which trainee apprenticeship to join on the understanding that there was free transport for all under 18. If this proposal goes ahead, some young people may have to make a change to their choice of next steps at this late stage and with a much-reduced choice, further compounding disadvantage.
Our school community is very concerned that they have not been able to consult with parents/carers about any suspension of free travel in the run-up to September both for those returning to school and also for those pupils who will be making significant choices about secondary education for the following academic year.
We are all very keen not to add to parents/carers uncertainty about their children’s return to school in September and this proposal will certainly raise that uncertainty for some families.
We urge you to do all you can to ensure that free travel for all those under 18 remains in place. This will ensure more equal access to education and to all those amazing cultural opportunities for every child and young person growing up in London.
Mayor of Hackney
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble
Deputy Mayor of Hackney and Cabinet Member for Education, Young People and Children’s Social Care
Free travel on London’s transport for under-18s will be suspended after the October half-term, October 24 – 28 according to government plans seen by the BBC.
The plan to temporarily end free travel for 11 to 17-year-olds was a condition Transport for London’s (TfL) £1.6bn lockdown bailout.
About 30% of children who currently travel by bus to school would still be eligible for free travel, TfL said.
The Mayor of London called on the government drop the plans.
A spokesman for Sadiq Khan said the policy “will hit the poorest Londoners hardest and place significant administrative and financial burdens on already stretched schools and local authorities”.
“Rather than forcing this measure through, the Government should work with TfL to find a better solution that doesn’t risk hitting the poorest Londoners hardest”.
10 October 2020