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Kingston Council criticises decision to remove free travel for youngsters

Kingston Council is disappointed at the Government’s move to suspend free travel for under-18s in London.

The condition to remove free travel for under-18s around the capital was included as part of the £1.6 billion lockdown bailout agreement between the Government and Transport for London (TfL) in May. The Leader of the Council, Cllr Caroline Kerr, has written to the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, setting out the disastrous impact this would have on the education, training, employment and social opportunities open to young people in Kingston and across London, particularly as we rebuild our city after the COVID-19 lockdown. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has also written to the Transport Secretary in a bid to remove this from the agreement. 

The Council obviously recognises the financial impact of COVID-19 and maintains the view that travel should only be essential during this time.

However, the Council believes this would impact disadvantaged young people the most, as they may be unable to afford travel to access education, training and employment. It would also place further financial strain on the Council to fulfill statutory school travel obligations.

Councillor Diane White, portfolio holder for children’s services, said:

“I am very concerned about the decision to remove free travel for young people.

“Whilst we are sympathetic to the financial circumstances as a result of COVID-19, we believe this is a short-sighted move on behalf of the Government.

“We are committed to promoting young people’s independence in our borough and this would act as a barrier, limiting their choices for education and socialisation.

“We should be proud we offer free travel to young people, allowing them all equal access to life’s opportunities.”