Bus axe plans spark ‘white­wash’ claims

Par­ents say their views have not been con­sid­ered

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

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

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