The County You Live, Work And Play
Pupil Pens Protest Letter
Calderside Academy pupil Alex McLean (16), from Earnock, wrote to council leader Eddie McAvoy and other councillors, to fight against the changes, which will mean the distance for children entitled to a free bus to school changes from two miles to three.
South Lanarkshire Council published the advised walking routes for pupils. The changes will come into effect in August.
Alex, who is going into sixth year, is a member of the Calderside Rights Respecting Group and wrote in his letter he feels the plans violate the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, article three.
The article states: “The best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them. All adults should do what is best for children. When adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children. This particularly applies to budget, policy and law makers.”
In the letter, Alex also writes: “All of the walking routes from Hamilton to Blantyre are unsafe to walk, especially for children as young as 11, as they involve either crossing over busy slip-roads or walking through underpasses that are well-known drugs hotspots and poorly lit.
“Furthermore, the increased number of parents driving their children to and from the school mean there is increased risk of accident for those who are walking.”
So far ,Councillor Bert Thomson, Councillor John Menzies and MSP Christina McKelvie have replied.
John Menzies praised Alex for his initiative and said: “The letter from Alex detailing the UN Convention on Children’s Rights raises very valid points and, clearly, the decision to make children walk up to three miles completely contradicts article three of the convention.
“It is ironic Calderside Academy is the first secondary school in South Lanarkshire to be granted Rights Respecting School status - yet it is the vast amount of pupils at this very school most affected by these proposed changes. Alex must feel his trust in the council has been betrayed.”
In response Lynn Sherry, head of education at South Lanarkshire Council, 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 have 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. Further information on walking routes will be provided as these become available.”