Bus axe plans spark ‘whitewash’ claims
Parents say their views have not been considered
South Lanarkshire Council’s consultation to cut free school bus provision has been branded a whitewash by those opposed to the proposal.
The outcome was published on the council website last Friday.
But furious parents feel their views have not been considered and are now certain the change will be passed at an executive committee next month.
In February, the council voted to change the criteria for those living more than two miles from secondary school being eligible to three miles.
The move is in line with the Scottish statutory, but it has left parents fearing for their children’s safety.
Ninety-four per cent of 1804 respondents to the consultation were against the proposal.
Over 300 respondents were concerned with getting their child to Cathkin High, with a further 173 for Trinity and 50 for Stonelaw.
The document contained a summary of a report from Education Scotland, who said the move has some potential educational benefits,” due to the financial saving of around £650,000 being made.
However, they did say parents had “reasonable concerns,” and urged the council to rethink their timetable for implementing the change.
The document states: “Given the financial challenges being faced by local authorities, the council has had to reassess service priorities and remains of the view that it can no longer afford to provide secondary school mainstream transport at a more generous level than required under the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.
“If the proposal was not to be implemented then it would have an adverse impact on Education Resources financial position.”
But this week parent and Halfway community councillor Jackie Rinn, from Halfway, said it wasn’t good enough.
Her daughter Ashley, who turns 12 this month, is set to make the step up from Park View to Stonelaw and faces a lengthy walk if the change goes through.
Jackie said: “I’m absolutely disgusted, they are just putting responsibility back to the parents. Basically, it’s a whitewash.
“Speaking to a lot of parents, they will not be sending their children to school if this goes ahead.
“They still haven’t listened, this seems like it’s a done deal. They say they are saving money on teachers but what good is that of you can’t get the kids to school safely.
“I still don’t know how they can class Greenlees Road and Howieshill as safe routes.
“They are saying the parents have to be responsible, well I am a responsible parents and I’ll be doing the responsible thing and not sending my child to school when the change comes in.”
Halfway Community Council held a sub-committee meeting on Monday night and chair, John Edgar said those present had been “disappointed” with the outcome.
And he called on local councillors to come out against the plans: “They are voted in to represent the people, and 94 per cent of people don’t want this to happen.
“There were some aspects of the outcome that were positive, but others that were very, very negative. I’m especially surprised the police said there were no issues with territorialism.
“We will be attending the executive committee and we’re hoping to meet with the Scottish Government on this issue.”
Executive director of education resources Jim Gilhooly said: “Now that the formal consultation period has concluded the secondary school transport proposals will be considered by councillors at the Executive Committee on August 26.
“No decision has yet been made and all voices have been listened to and taken into account as part of the decision-making process.
“By seeking to move to providing free secondary school transport after three miles we would be in line with 19 other local authorities in Scotland who have already adopted this statutory limit. If the new three miles statutory limit is approved we will learn from the experiences of these councils.
“The council has significant savings to make, meaning there are difficult decisions to take. As such, these proposals have not been made lightly.”
Walk Concerned parents and pupils held a protest march along the proposed safe route from halfway to Cathkin High