Par­ents ready to face school bus cuts agony

Coun­cil meet to dis­cuss re­sults of public con­sul­ta­tion

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil are set to press ahead with plans to cut the dis­tance at which sec­ondary school pupils qual­ify for free trans­port.

But the coun­cil are likely to re­vise their ini­tial pro­posal, with kids en­ti­tled to free school meals and liv­ing more than two miles away still be­ing el­i­gi­ble.

Im­ple­men­ta­tion of the plan is also set to be post­poned un­til April next year.

Coun­cil­lors on the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee will meet to­day ( Wed­nes­day) to dis­cuss the re­sults of a con­sul­ta­tion into the pro­posed change from two miles to the statu­tory three miles.

The SNP Group have said they will vote against the pro­pos­als, but it seems likely it will get the go ahead.

Op­po­si­tion to the plan has been heavy, with 94 per cent of over 1800 rep­re­sen­ta­tions not agree­ing with the pro­posal.

How­ever, in a re­port to coun­cil­lors, of­fi­cers ad­vise: “In reach­ing an over­all view of the pro­posal, con­sid­er­a­tion was given to the fact that many did not sup­port it, but this was weighed against the need to make fi­nan­cial sav­ings, the pro­tec­tion al­ready af­forded to ed­u­ca­tion, the fact that the cur­rent pro­vi­sion goes fur­ther than the Coun­cil’s statu­tory re­spon­si­bil­ity and the view of Ed­u­ca­tion Scot­land which did not com­ment about any po­ten­tial im­pact on at­tain­ment.”

On the ad­vice of Ed­u­ca­tion Scot­land, of­fi­cers have sug­gested post­pon­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion from Septem­ber 29 un­til April 18, 2016.

Al­low­ing kids on free school meals to keep be­ing bussed for free would bring the num­ber of pupils af­fected down to 1650 across the coun­cil. That would leave 2750 chil­dren still el­i­gi­ble.

The coun­cil ini­tially thought the pro­posal could save them £1m per school year, but have cut their pro­jec­tion to £800,000.

How­ever, many par­ents re­main up­set at the prospect of their kids hav­ing to walk or take public trans­port to school.

Jackie Rinn, who set up a sub- com­mit­tee of Half­way Com­mu­nity Coun­cil to deal with the is­sue, blasted the re­port this week, say­ing the coun­cil were “dis­crim­i­nat­ing against work­ing peo­ple.”

Her daugh­ter, Ash­ley ( 12), started at Stonelaw ear­lier this month, but she has con­sis­tently said she won’t send her to school if their free trans­port is cut.

She added: “I think it’s a dis­grace, peo­ple who are work­ing are pay­ing for other kids to be bussed to school.

“This is about equal op­por­tu­ni­ties and all kids should be treated the same.

“This was about trans­port and safety, not money. We’ve been told the safe walk­ing routes but still haven’t been shown the safety assess­ments used to come up with them. The coun­cil are di­vid­ing com­mu­ni­ties.”

Cam­bus­lang East Coun­cil­lor Chris­tine Deanie said she was “in­can­des­cent with anger” at the pro­posal.

She added: “The big is­sue is how di­vi­sive this is. You’ll have kids who are en­ti­tled to free school meals go­ing past in half empty buses.”

Ruther­glen and Hamil­ton West MP, Mar­garet Ferrier also ques­tioned the safe walk­ing routes be­ing pro­posed, specif­i­cally cross­ing Greenlees Road, as a de­ci­sion on the pro­posal looms.

She said: “South La­nark­shire Coun­cil are rush­ing ahead with their plans with com­plete dis­re­gard for the safety of our school­child­ren. See­ing this stretch of road, and try­ing to cross it my­self, makes it clear that this is an ac­ci­dent wait­ing to hap­pen.

“I’m call­ing on South La­nark­shire Coun­cil to take ac­tion. This is not a safe walk­ing route for adults, let alone chil­dren. This route needs to be re­viewed and ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion needs to be taken be­fore the coun­cil con­sider ask­ing par­ents to al­low their chil­dren to walk it.”

Not safe Mar­garet Ferrier MP is joined by lo­cal coun­cil­lors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Half­way Com­mu­nity Coun­cil at Greenlees Road to op­pose plans to re­duce school bus pro­vi­sion in Cam­bus­lang

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