The County You Live, Work And Play
Parent Writes To Scottish Commissioner
Concerned parent Julia believes the council may have breached the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The Scottish Commissioner for Young People has weighed into the debate on changes to free buses for school children.
If the proposed changes are agreed, secondary school age children will have to live at least three miles from their school before South Lanarkshire will provide them with free bus travel. The current limit is two miles.
Concerned parent Julia Marrs contacted the Scottish Commissioner for Young People as she believed the council may have breached the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The convention sets out that children should be consulted on issues affecting them, and that any changes are made in their best interests.
The Commissioner’s office responded to Julia’s enquiry saying that The Commissioner had received enquiries from several local authority areas where changes are being made to school transport provision and that they would be writing to the Scottish Government highlighting concerns about children’s rights and the decision-making process.
Julia has passed that information on to South Lanarkshire Council along with a risk assessment of the supposed ‘safe walking route’ that her son, who attends Lanark Grammar, will have to walk once his entitlement to bus transport is removed.
In her opinion the route is not safe. Julia hopes to delay a vote due to be taken by the council’s Executive Committee on August 26.
Councillors are being asked to make a final decision and ratify the bus changes at that meeting. Although councillors could vote against the proposals, council officers have recommended they be approved.
Julia said: “I have long believed that SLC have a duty of care to ensure walking routes are safe and with a colleague, Stuart Clark, have compiled a risk assessment for the route Kirkfieldbank to Lanark Grammar School.
“This has been sent to SLC with a request to be sent their risk assessment for this and other routes.
“I have also been in contact with the Scottish Commissioner for Children and Young People (Tam Baillie).
“Their letter would suggest that SLC are in potentially in breach of Article 12 of the UNCRC and two areas of legislation.
“My hope is that in light of the information I have supplied to SLC the vote may be delayed until a proper consultation and assessment of walking routes is carried out.”
The Scottish Commissioner for Young People explained that the UK has ratified the UNCRC, although it has not incorporated the convention into law.
However, the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 places new duties on both Ministers ‘keep under consideration whether there are any steps they could take which would or might secure better or further effect in Scotland of the UNCRC requirements’.
Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Tam Baillie said: “Councils should undertake a children’s rights impact assessment on decisions such as changes to school transport to ensure that children and young people’s views are taken into account and that any changes made are in their best interests.”
Executive Director of Education Resources Jim Gilhooly at South Lanarkshire Council said: “The council is of the view that the consultation was undertaken in line with statutory requirements.
“I can confirm a letter was received from Mrs Marr and she will can expect to receive a full response in due course.
“The consultation report will be considered by the Executive Committee on August 26, 2015.”