Disbelief in Upper Dales over closest college bus pass policy

Hawes. Photo: Google

Fears have been raised over the post-GCSE education of students in the Upper Dales after it emerged they can no longer catch a council-run bus service to the colleges all their predecessors have attended.

While students from the Upper Dales already attending sixth-form, further education and vocational colleges in Darlington will be able to continue buying a £600 bus pass from North Yorkshire County Council for subsidised travel, those set to start there in September have been told they are only eligible for assistance to Craven College in Skipton as it is the nearest college.

The ruling by County Hall officials has left the families of students in villages such as Hawes, Bainbridge and Aysgarth dumbfounded as there is no public transport to Skipton from the area and move would mean students having to cross mountain passes twice daily through the winter months.

In a response to concerns, the council emphasised transport assistance was only available to students attending their catchment school or the nearest college to their home address offering a course that the authority considers suitable to a student’s career choice, or that is a pre-requisite for entry into higher education.

The AA’s online routeplanner states while the distance between Hawes and Skipton is 9.3 miles less than that to Darlington, it takes 59 minutes to the former and 60 minutes to the latter. Locals say in winter the journey time to Skipton would be far longer and the students already leave Hawes for Darlington at 6.50am every day.

A council official specialising in post-16 school transport wrote: “Parents are also given the right to appeal by emailing the reasons why the student is attending a particular college. The case then will be looked at by senior officers to see if there are grounds to agree the request and we will let them know the decision in writing.”

Hawes councillor Jill McMullon said students had been stunned by an apparent unannounced policy change by the council after being accepted on courses in Darlington.

She said the Little White Bus community service had been set up specifically to take students from Wensleydale to Leyburn for a connecting service to Darlington.

Cllr McMullon said: “This policy is putting students from the Upper Dales at a huge disadvantage at a time in their lives that that should be exciting.

“It would be hugely expensive and unaffordable for some of the families of students from the area to have to fully fund their college transport.

“As there are no alternative transport services and their parents work full time it would impossible for them to attend another college. This needs to put right.”


  1. Home to sixth form school/college/uni transport in the Upper Dales had always been a farce – nearly 20 years ago we challenged the decision that our students should have to travel to Darlington or Skipton due to the ridiculous amount of time it takes etc in favour of going to Kendal using the school bus to Sedbergh and then connection to Kendal which was far quicker and shorter actually. Ask the decision makers if they would put up with thier own children travelling so far every day especially in winter and even more ridiculously over the dangerous roads to get to Skipton on an early winters morning/evening and then having to start doing homework when they get home after a close to 12 hour day ?? It is sheer discrimination. At the time we challenged the decision and won our case – the main reason for the opposition was because it was taking your children outside of county boundaries for their education. At the time policy stated that transport should be provided to the nearest school despite county boundaries. Our children deserve the same education as those living closer to college and it’s about time this was recognised by providing the means to make sure they get it. At the time we were faced with a similar situation it was our own local representation opposing our case , let’s hope todays representation offers genuine support.

  2. This is typical of officials in county hall being clueless about the upper Dales and the geography of the area.

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