Coun­cil­lors fight to save school buses

Macclesfield Express - - EU REFERENDUM -

A GROUP of Con­ser­va­tive, Labour and In­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lors have joined forces to fight Cheshire East’s de­ci­sion to axe school buses say­ing the safety of chil­dren must come first.

The coun­cil­lors - who rep­re­sent ar­eas where pupils will have to walk the dis­puted ‘safe’ routes to schools - have put their po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences aside in an ef­fort to re­verse a de­ci­sion taken by seven Con­ser­va­tive cab­i­net mem­bers last week.

Led by Labour coun­cil­lor Dorothy Flude - whose con­stituency in Crewe in­cludes an af­fected walk­ing route - they have launched an of­fi­cial chal­lenge by call­ing-in the de­ci­sion, which means it will be looked at again by a the Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies scru­tiny com­mit­tee.

Coun­cil­lors in­cluded in the call in are Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lor Jon We­ston, who rep­re­sents Bolling­ton.

He said: “The safest and best way to get the chil­dren to school is by bus.”

In­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor Amanda Stott, who rep­re­sents Bolling­ton, said the coun­cil should al­low par­ents to be heard be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion.

She said: “Hope­fully by get­ting it called in and get­ting fur­ther de­bate and dis­cus­sion we can get across all those thoughts, views and con­cerns that ev­ery­body is rais­ing now.

“Maybe par­ents would feel bet­ter if there was CCTV and if the coun­cil had gone some way to mak­ing it safe and less op­pres­sive, or at the very least putting in a pedes­trian cross­ing on the Silk Road, but they haven’t of­fered any of this. The coun­cil haven’t met par­ents at any points.”

Coun Stott has also crit­i­cised Coun Ge­orge Hayes for sug­gest­ing par­ents are re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing their child ar­rives at school safely.

She added: “He is the deputy port­fo­lio holder for Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies and on the Cor­po­rate Par­ent­ing Com­mit­tee - what hat is he wear­ing when he is say­ing that’s it’s the par­ents re­spon­si­bil­ity to get chil­dren safely to school?”

For­mer Coun­cil leader coun Michael Jones, who was in charge the last time it was pro­posed to axe the free school buses, said he still con­sid­ered the route to be un­safe.

He added: “It’s just ridicu­lous for the head of cor­po­rate par­ent­ing to say we’re not re­spon­si­ble for their per­sonal safety.

“If we’re not re­spon­si­ble who is? We all are, ev­ery­body, in­clud­ing the coun­cil.”

He added: “God help those coun­cil­lors if some­one does hap­pen to get injured walk­ing that route.”

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