The County You Live, Work And Play
SLC Row Continues Over Free Transport Limits
Members of Halfway Community Council were previously joined by Margaret Ferrier MP in protesting against the bus proposals
Parents of children asked to walk three miles to school have vowed to complete their own safety investigations after they were given walking routes dating back to 2003 by South Lanarkshire Council.
The local authority confirmed in August that it is extending the limit for free school transport from two miles to three miles in a bid to save £1 million a year.
From April 18, 2016 only children who qualify for free school meals and who live between two and three miles from their school will be offered free transport alongside those outwith the new three-mile boundary.
Outraged parents whose children are now being asked to walk through public parks and along roads without pavements say South Lanarkshire Council are putting their children in danger. At a meeting in Cambuslang on Thursday, January 14, parents agreed two actions to fight the council on the proposals they have dubbed “ludicrous”.
They will launch a petition calling on the Scottish Government to change the law to ensure all children living two or more miles from school are entitled to free transport.
Secondly, the parents have agreed to raise the £600 needed to pay for an independent risk assessment on some of the proposed walking routes.
Jackie Rinn, of Halfway Community Council, who chaired the meeting said: “South Lanarkshire Council say in their letters it’s safe walking route, how can they deem it safe as their assessments were done in 2003, 2009 and 2011?
“Councillor Walter Brogan is asking the council if they will accept an independent risk assessment. I don’t imagine they would be happy to accept them because they would be shown they were wrong. There is no safety element to this whatsoever... they are putting budgets before safety.”
Councillor Brogan said people in rural areas had been gathering evidence by walking proposed school routes with video cameras, highlighting hazards along the way.
He told parents: “You must understand that I have been fighting this tooth and nail.
“I think you should get yourselves a fighting fund, if you need legal advice, get legal advice.
“You need that fund to fight this seriously, if it’s to pay for independent road assessments or whatever. Let’s get back to the Scottish Government and South Lanarkshire Council, we need to keep putting pressure on them.”
Gordon Mackay, head of roads and transportation services said: “The council conducts walking route to school assessments taking cognisance of regional guidance which identifies potential road safety hazards therefore, there is no formal scored risk assessment carried out.
“Assessment of routes are undertaken when requests are received by the council resulting in these being undertaken over a period of time.
Should parents have concerns with respect to a particular route then the council would investigate such issues. The council would be happy to review any independent walking route to school assessment submitted in accordance with the criteria set out in the West of Scotland Road Safety Forum Guidance.”