Don’t use this as a step­ping stone to pri­mary travel ar­range­ments says MSP

Rutherglen Reformer - - News -

Bob Doris MSP has called on South La­nark­shire Coun­cil not to use pro­posed changes to free sec­ondary school travel as a step­ping stone to chang­ing pri­mary school pro­vi­sion as well.

The Glas­gow MSP was speak­ing the week af­ter he and Ruther­glen and Hamil­ton West MP, Mar­garet Ferrier, lodged mo­tions in their re­spec­tive par­lia­ments against the plans.

Plans to change the pri­mary pro­vi­sion from one mile to two miles were shelved by coun­cil­lors be­fore this year’s bud­get was passed in Fe­bru­ary.

But, point­ing to changes in the Glas­gow City Coun­cil area, Mr Doris said: “These plans are both po­ten­tially un­safe and un­fair for fam­i­lies.

“If the Coun­cil are pre­pared to make this move to sec­ondary school chil­dren, then who’s to say they won’t come back next year and erode the ser­vice for pri­mary school kids? Af­ter all that’s what their col­leagues in Glas­gow are do­ing- ax­ing both ser­vices at the same time.

“I have spo­ken to a num­ber of par­ents who are strug­gling to come to terms with these changes and have sought clar­i­fi­ca­tion from the coun­cil who con­tinue to be opaque in­clud­ing the pro­posed ‘safe walk­ing routes’ that of­ten travel along busy roads dur­ing the busiest times of day.

“Even at this late stage I would urge South La­nark­shire Coun­cil to think again.”

Mar­garet Ferrier MP added: Peo­ple haven’t been prop­erly con­sulted and the con­cerns of many are be­ing ig­nored. Labour-led South La­nark­shire Coun­cil (SLC) seem de­ter­mined to im­ple­ment these changes, with lit­tle re­gard for those af­fected.”

“Pupils, par­ents, and our public trans­port net­work, are not pre­pared for these ill-con­ceived plans and I urge SLC to halt these pro­pos­als.”

Coun­cil leader, Ed­die McAvoy, said pro­posed changes to pri­mary school pro­vi­sion had been de­layed un­til the 2016/17 bud­get.

But he told the Re­former this week he didn’t think they would be changed: “I have got some reser­va­tions about that.

“It is in the sav­ings for this year but put back to next year, but will the coun­cil im­ple­ment it? That’s up to the coun­cil­lors but I do not be­lieve the coun­cil will take that op­tion.

“Only eight coun­cils out of 32 do not ap­ply the le­gal limit in­clud­ing three run by the SNP or with the SNP in coali­tion, so why don’t the SNP politi­cians ask them to change their rules?”

Lynn Sherry, Head of Ed­u­ca­tion at South La­nark­shire Coun­cil, said: “A statu­tory con­sul­ta­tion took place over the pe­riod March 16 to May 13, 2015, dur­ing which time con­sul­tees were in­vited to make their views known.

“Fol­low­ing this pe­riod Ed­u­ca­tion Scot­land also con­sid­ered the pro­posal and has re­cently made their re­port avail­able to the coun­cil.

“A con­sul­ta­tion re­port is cur­rently be­ing fi­nalised which takes ac­count of the re­sponses that have been re­ceived. This fi­nal re­port will be com­pleted and made avail­able through the coun­cil’s web­site on July 10, 2015.” Mar­garet Ferrier MP has ac­cused South La­nark­shire Coun­cil of fail­ing to con­sult with a ma­jor bus com­pany with re­gards to the pro­posed changes to sec­ondary school bus travel.

The Ruther­glen and Hamil­ton West MP met with First Bus’ La­nark­shire Busi­ness Di­rec­tor Mar­garet Maye last week to dis­cuss the is­sue.

She said First Bus have only now been pro­vided with ex­pected im­pact num­bers from the coun­cil.

Ms Ferrier said: “Af­ter meet­ing with First Bus to dis­cuss this mat­ter, I am dis­mayed to learn that SLC have failed to con­sult with them to al­low them to carry out a travel im­pact as­sess­ment.”

How­ever, Lynn Sherry, Head of Ed­u­ca­tion, said: “In terms of the pro­posal to amend the cri­te­ria for free trans­port to school for sec­ondary aged pupils from two miles to three miles the coun­cil has en­gaged with par­ents, fam­i­lies and other stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing SPT who are re­spon­si­ble for ne­go­ti­at­ing school bus con­tracts.

“The coun­cil did en­sure SPT were in­formed of the pro­posed changes to school trans­port pro­vi­sion and un­der­stand that SPT wrote to con­trac­tors to ad­vise them of the pro­pos­als and the po­ten­tial pro­jected pupil num­bers af­fected within their area.

“This was to let trans­port providers know the po­ten­tial im­pact and for them to con­sider and make com­mer­cial de­ci­sions about lo­cal routes.

“This was also a com­mit­ment the Coun­cil gave to par­ents dur­ing the public meet­ings which took place dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod.

“How­ever, it should be noted that the Coun­cil can­not make de­ci­sions on the vi­a­bil­ity of public bus ser­vices.”

Mean­while, par­ents will find out the re­sult of the con­sul­ta­tion ex­er­cise car­ried out by the coun­cil on Fri­day ( July 10).

This will be made avail­able to par­ents on the coun­cil web­site.

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