The County You Live, Work And Play
Parents of pupils in South Lanarkshire have been angered by proposed safe walking routes published ahead of changes to the free bus service.
South Lanarkshire Council revealed the advised routes that pupils should take following the council’s 2015 budget plan – which will mean the distance for children entitled to a free bus to school changes from two miles to three miles as of August.
The change means thousands of pupils across South Lanarkshire who were previously entitled to a free bus will be affected.
Pupils at Calderside Academy in Blantyre could be the worst affected, with hundreds of pupils set to change their daily routine, and the Calderside Academy School Transport Group have expressed their anger at the routes.
Two of the proposed safe walking routes have been made available online for Calderside Academy, travelling from Coyton Crescent and Sandhead Terrace to the school.
On June 10 the group met families at Hillhouse and Earnock Civic Centre to walk one of the identified routes from Hamilton to Calderside Academy and look at the proposals.
The protest group have been backed by Councillor John Menzies, who has two daughters who attend Calderside Academy and took part in the walk, and he expressed his anger at the proposals.
He said: “I have several concerns about the safe walking routes identified, especially those affecting pupils having to walk from Hamilton to Calderside Academy in Blantyre.
“I am concerned about the vast numbers of children this will involve – many, many more than all other schools affected. The routes identified are very close to three miles and I think some of the addresses identified as no longer being eligible, may in fact continue to be eligible.
“I would doubt many families will be happy to let their children walk the identified routes.”
Lynn Sherry, head of education at South Lanarkshire Council, stated that although the routes were published, a final decision is to be taken by the council and Education Scotland.
She said: “The school transport consultation period has now ended and we would like to thank people for taking the time to comment on the proposals. We collated all of the written and oral representations received and sent them to Education Scotland for consideration.
“Education Scotland has also visited the authority and spoken to some of the people who responded to the consultation. They are now preparing a report on the educational aspects of the proposal, taking account of the responses received.
“In the meantime work has been carried out to identify safe walking routes from areas where there is likely to be a direct impact to each of our secondary schools, if the proposal is agreed.
“Based on distance alone a list of qualifying and non qualifying addresses is now available on the council’s website. Proposed walking routes and the West of Scotland Road Safety Forum Guidelines are also online for parents to view. Further information on walking routes will be provided as these become available.
“We hope to receive Education Scotland’s report by mid June, and taking account of relevant written representations received during the consultation period, oral representations made during the public meetings and the Education Scotland report go on to prepare and publish a consultation report which will include a recommendation on the proposal.”