Selsey drop-in service pass hike slammed

A woman who runs a youth drop-in service in Selsey has criticised the decision to start charging young people for a discount public travel pass.

Marjorie Graham, who co-founded the Snak Shak at High Street, said students should not be expected to fork out £50 to get a three-in-one young person’s travel card, provided by West Sussex County Council.

The card is a proof of age and gives students cheaper bus travel and some discounts in shops.

Mrs Graham said: “Running the Snak Shak I am involved with children up to the age of 17. Once they leave their schools they take on apprenticeships, go to college, and we try to encourage them to think positively about moving on to more educational training.

“We do find that public travel in outline districts like Selsey is so expensive now, but the pass gave reduced bus travel.

“Some of the Snak Shak youngsters have casual jobs. Suddenly from being a free pass to £50 (over three years) is a very big jump.

“I think perhaps a smaller fee would be better. It’s a bit of a blow.”

Schools and colleges were notified about the 3in1 pass charge back in April. But Mrs Graham thinks the change probably didn’t sink in for most pupils.

She added: “In this time of recession families are going to find it hard to pay £50.”

She wrote a letter of complaint to West Sussex County Council, to which deputy leader Lionel Barnard replied.

He said: “I do understand how important the card can be for families and young people, and this is why I was determined to find a way to keep the scheme running while maintaining its free status for those on lower incomes.

“The introduction of the £50 charge (over three years) for the 3in1 card achieves this aim and is comparable with charges made for other schemes locally where they do exist.

“Even with this charge the scheme will still cost the council over £1m each year to fund cut-price bus travel for younger people at a time when so many other services are, as you know, under pressure.”