STUDENTS who face paying more than £300 a year to travel to sixth form on a bus can pay in instalments, Newport council has said, after protests outside the civic centre last week.

But one of the group said this is “too little too late” after parents raced to the council offices to pay the first chunk – only to return home to a letter from Newport council informing them of the change.

Last month a dozen Welsh-language students gathered outside Newport Civic Centre in a protest against a 300 per cent rise in bus fees.

Four of the students, who all want to go to sixth form at Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool, had a meeting with council cabinet member for education Debbie Wilcox, after they received a letter on July 2 informing them home-to-school charges would rise from £80 last year to £347 this year.

The price includes a £150 travel grant, and is the start of Newport council plans to cut travel subsidies further over the next three years, with students paying £600 a year by 2017.

At the meeting, the students were told that officers would look into hardship grants and to expect further news “as quickly as possible”.

But with the first instalment of £115 due to be paid on Thursday, parents rushed to the civic centre to pay – only to find upon their return a letter offering them the chance to pay it over 10 months, with the first payment deferred until August 31.

One of the students who protested, Hannah Howells, 16, said the letter should have been sent at least five days previously.

“Some parents will still have to pay £70 a month as they have two children in Gwynllyw,” she said.

“The council have stuck to their ground and although it is an advantage to pay bit by bit we are still paying.

“On the day (of the protest) I thought they were going to do something, but they haven’t.

“The hardship fund wasn’t mentioned in the letter.”

A Newport council spokeswoman confirmed that parents could pay the cost over 10 months and that the first payment had been deferred.

Last month Cllr Wilcox said the council could no longer continue to subsidise the school transport service by £91,000 a year.