THE South Lakes MP has called on the government to provide free school transport for sixth form students.

Tim Farron, the Westmorland and Lonsdale MP has urged the government to help all sixth formers access to free school transport, as he has particular concerns about young people living in rural Cumbria getting to college.

Free school transport is provided for children up until sixth form age.

Mr Farron has said that in communities like Coniston and Sedbergh are often impossible to access sixth forms at schools or colleges by public transport.

In a letter to the education secretary, Damian Hinds, Mr Farron asked how the government could justify the discrimination against 16 to18-year-old students since raising the age that young people are allowed to leave education.

Mr Farron said: “During my summer tour the issue of school transport came up regularly in the more remote areas.

“It just simply doesn’t make any sense for the government to demand that young people carry on with education until they are 18, but at the same time take away the means which actually allows them to travel there every day.

“There needs to be a statutory responsibility for Local Education Authorities to guarantee home to school transport for 16 to18-year-old students in the same way that there is for those students under the age of 16 – and the government must provide them with the money do this.

“This continued discrimination against sixth form students must end now.”

But a Conservative South Lakes councillor has accused the Liberal Democrat MP of double standards over school transport funding.

Referring to Mr Farron's comments for more free school transport funding, Councillor Tom Harvey said: "If Tim Farron really wants to improve school transport for pupils in South Lakeland, he should speak to his fellow Liberal Democrat councillors who control Cumbria County Council and pushed through massive cuts

to the service. To add insult to injury they then voted against proposals by the council’s Conservative group to restore funding.

"Instead of shouting from the side-lines, Mr Farron needs to ask himself why he can't even influence councillors in his own party."