SNP should stop try­ing to score po­lit­i­cal points

... that’s the view of Labour coun­cil­lor Ger­ard Killen

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

The SNP are us­ing the school bus is­sue to score po­lit­i­cal points, ac­cord­ing to a Ruther­glen coun­cil­lor.

Labour coun­cil­lor Ger­ard Killen says SNP politi­cians should be lob­by­ing their own Gov­ern­ment be­fore turn­ing on the coun­cil over the changes to free bus pro­vi­sion.

Coun­cil­lor Killen was speak­ing af­ter a Twit­ter spat be­tween him­self and Bob Doris MSP on the is­sue.

The pair traded ver­bal blows on the so­cial media site, with Coun­cil­lor Killen say­ing SNP mem­bers should be call­ing on Fi­nance Min­is­ter John Swin­ney to change the statu­tory dis­tance to be el­i­gi­ble.

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil voted to change the limit for sec­ondary school chil­dren from two miles to three miles, much to the anger of par­ents, es­pe­cially in the Cam­bus­lang East ward.

A con­sul­ta­tion ex­er­cise took place with the re­sults due to be pub­lished this month.

Coun­cil­lor Killen told the Re­former this week that the ul­ti­mate blame for the change lay with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, and chang­ing the statu­tory limit would mean coun­cil’s re­ceiv­ing a grant to make sure they could com­ply.

He said: “When you squeeze a lo­cal gov­ern­ment’s bud­get as much as ours, do not be sur­prised when that au­thor­ity moves to the statu­tory lim­its.

“On this is­sue, we have moved to the statu­tory and if Bob Doris feels as strongly as he says he does, he should cham­pion chang­ing the statu­tory.

“Bob Doris said on Twit­ter this was about de­ci­sion be­ing made at lo­cal level, but the is­sue is about fund­ing.

“There are peo­ple com­ing to my surg­eries con­cerned about this, and rightly so. No-one wants to make de­ci­sions like this, but there is a so­lu­tion and it’s in Bob Doris’s gov­ern­ment’s hands.

“The SNP are us­ing this to try and score po­lit­i­cal points.”

The Ruther­glen South coun­cil­lor said some SNP coun­cils were also mak­ing the change, point­ing to An­gus Coun­cil, Dundee City Coun­cil and North Ayr­shire Coun­cil.

He also said only eight coun­cil­lors out of Scot­land’s 32 still op­er­ated the one mile for pri­mary pupils and two for sec­ondary sys­tem.

How­ever, Bob Doris MSP hit back say­ing Labour was try­ing to shirk re­spon­si­bil­ity over the is­sue de­spite pre­vi­ously com­plain­ing about a cen­tral­i­sa­tion of power.

He added: “It’s a sad state of af­fairs that Labour have re­sorted to ac­cus­ing elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives who stand up for gen­uine com­mu­nity con­cerns as try­ing to score po­lit­i­cal points.

“It’s my duty to re­flect the con­cerns of fam­i­lies over the ax­ing of school bus travel - con­cerns over cost, over safety, con­cerns about the im­pact on at­ten­dance and ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment. I’ll not shirk from that task de­spite Coun­cil­lor Killen’s grum­blings.

“Labour re­peat­edly falsely claim the SNP have cen­tralised power at Holy­rood. It’s a sad irony that when the Labour Party in South La­nark­shire have a lo­cal de­ci­sion to make on school bus travel, they call on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to step in and tell them what to do.”

John Edgar, chair of Half­way Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, said: “South La­nark­shire Coun­cil should be look­ing to save money in other ar­eas.

“How much does it cost to run buses from West Coats to the old Cairns for the de­cant? That’s the kind of thing they should be

Bob Doris MSP

Cllr Ger­ard Killen

Cam­paign Par­ents and kids alike are fu­ri­ous at plans to change free school bus pro­vi­sion

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