SNP should stop trying to score political points
... that’s the view of Labour councillor Gerard Killen
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