Pe­ti­tion to stop coun­cil bus changes

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Dou­glas Dickie

School chil­dren could be put in dan­ger from pae­dophiles if South La­nark­shire Coun­cil press ahead with changes to school bus pro­vi­sion, ac­cord­ing to par­ents in Half­way.

Dozens of con­cerned res­i­dents at­tended a sec­ond public meet­ing at Flem­ing­ton Hall­side Church on Mon­day night to dis­cuss the changes.

And a pe­ti­tion signed by nearly 5000 peo­ple was handed to South La­nark­shire of­fi­cials yes­ter­day (Tues­day) by a sub-com­mit­tee of Half­way Com­mu­nity Coun­cil.

The con­sul­ta­tion process into the pro­posed change closes to­day (May 13).

Un­der the plan, which only af­fects high school pupils, only kids living three miles or more from their sec­ondary school will be el­i­gi­ble for free trans­port rather than the cur­rent two.

Par­ents at this week’s meet­ing blasted the coun­cil, say­ing they would only take road safety into ac­count when de­ter­min­ing safe walk­ing routes.

One par­ent claimed there were 132 known pae­dophiles in the Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang area, although an FOI from the Re­former last year stated the num­ber of sex of­fend­ers was ac­tu­ally 47.

An­other said: “What re­ally con­cerns me is I can­not be­lieve for one sec­ond the coun­cil have done road safety checks but have not con­sid­ered per­sonal safety.” An­other said they felt “phys­i­cally

sick” at the prospect of their kids hav­ing to walk three miles to school with po­ten­tial sex of­fend­ers in the area.

Af­ter the meet­ing, mother’s told the Re­former their con­cerns.

Tina Park (39), said she was wor­ried about her 11-year-old daugh­ter, Lori, walk­ing from their Gate­side Av­enue home when she makes the step up from Park View to Stonelaw next year.

She said: “Th­ese kids are go­ing to be walk­ing through a mas­sive public park.

“When they are walk­ing to school, what se­cu­ri­ties are they go­ing to have?

“My daugh­ter is only 11, but she’s 5’5”. Stick some makeup on and she could pass for 18. Be­tween me and my hus­band, she will never walk to school, but she is hav­ing this op­por­tu­nity taken away from her.”

Sharon Dixon, whose 13year-old daugh­ter, Katy, will need to walk from Gil­bert­field Road to Cathkin High, said: “They are ex­pect­ing chil­dren to walk in very iso­lated ar­eas.

“My hus­band and I have looked at maps, we want to keep her off the main roads, but traf­fic is abysmal ev­ery­where.”

At the meet­ing, chaired by Jackie Rinn, com­mu­nity coun­cil­lor John Edgar, said they had re­ceived as­sur­ances form the coun­cil that enough of­fi­cers would be avail­able to carry out road safety as­sess­ments for fam­i­lies.

Sandy Pat­ter­son ran through the cri­te­ria for the road safety as­sess­ments as set down by the West of Scot­land Road Safety group.

Par­ents were also told that only one per­son would be per­mit­ted to co- or­di­nate a pri­vate bus if they chose to run one.

The meet­ing was at­tended by James Kelly MSP and Coun­cil­lor Christine Deanie.

Yes­ter­day (Tues­day), Jackie Rinn, John Edgar and Dougie Baird of the com­mu­nity coun­cil’s sub- com­mit­tee handed the pe­ti­tion, with 4946 signatures, over to David Hin­shel­wood of the roads depart­ment.

The coun­cil will pub­lish the re­sults of their con­sul­ta­tion on July 17.

Lynn Sherry, head of ed­u­ca­tion at South La­nark­shire Coun­cil, said per­sonal safety was the duty of the par­ents: “We are aware of con­cerns be­ing ex­pressed by some par­ents on the pro­posal to change the en­ti­tle­ment to free school travel from two miles to three miles. We have been en­cour­ag­ing par­ents to make their views known through our statu­tory con­sul­ta­tion which closes on May 13.

“The coun­cil is cur­rently work­ing on safe walk­ing routes, us­ing the West of Scot­land Road Safety Guide­lines, and th­ese will be avail­able to par­ents when com­plete. The safety as­sess­ment car­ried out is for road safety and as­sessed as­sum­ing a re­spon­si­ble adult is ac­com­pa­ny­ing the pupil.

“Where a pupil does not qual­ify for school trans­port on dis­tance or on road safety, it is the par­ents’ re­spon­si­bil­ity to get them safely to and from school.”

Pe­ti­tion Jackie Rinn of Half­way Com­mu­nity Coun­cil hands over nearly 5000 signatures to David Hin­shel­wood at South La­nark­shire Coun­cil

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