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SLC Challenged To Do U-Turn On Free Bus Travel
South Lanarkshire Council have been challenged to “take a leaf out of Glasgow City’s book” and do a U-turn on their stance over the criteria for free bus travel.
Glasgow City Council’s Labour administration backed down on their decision to scrap free school buses for hundreds of children, which aimed to save it around £615,000.
Parents’ tireless campaigning to highlight the impact of the proposals on their kids, who were expected to use walking routes they deemed unsafe, paid off.
Now mum Jackie Rinn, of Halfway, is congratulating Glasgow City Council and calling for South Lanarkshire to follow suit.
Jackie, who lives on Mill Road, is adamant she will keep daughter Ashley (12) away from Stonelaw High unless the council provide transport.
Last month, councillors agreed to extend the distance for secondary kids to receive free buses from two miles to three, although children entitled to free school meals will still be eligible.
Parents living in Westburn, Halfway, Overton, Cairns, Gilbertfield and parts of Drumsagard have all been left fuming at the plans.
Jackie said: “Particularly approaching winter, there is no way there is a safe way to walk - and there are territorial issues up there. Glasgow City Council did the right thing by children and I think South Lanarkshire should follow suit. Consultation leaves a lot to be desired. After April, we are expected to get our children to school. It is dividing communities,” hit out Jackie.
“I am a Labour supporter but I will not be voting for them. They have been told this issue will affect them at every level. There have been a number of crashes on so-called safe walking routes. We have been fighting over this for eight months now. I am totally disgusted with South Lanarkshire Council and the Labour party.”
Jackie, who says it would take Ashley at least an hour to walk to school, added: “I am really quite hurt that people I voted for personally are not in support of their constituents. South Lanarkshire Council could find other ways to make savings. They put on big functions for golden wedding anniversaries, and I’m sure grandparents would rather see grandkids getting to school safely.”
An online petition collected nearly 5000 signatures and 900 people have lodged objections.
John Edgar, chair of Halfway Community Council questioned why Glasgow City - who have a £100m deficit - can reverse their decision, yet SLC with a £30m shortfall cannot: “We are asking South Lanarkshire Council to have a change of heart as well. Hopefully, they will see sense and keep the buses on.”
Pointing out that SLC has built 125 new schools with more in the pipeline, an adamant council leader Eddie McAvoy said the buses decision has been made and will not be back tracked.
“There is not £1million available to reverse that decision,” he insisted. “There is no room for manoeuvre. The Scottish Government made our decision for us with a £3.5m cut in grant.”