Lanarkshire school bus cuts may need delayed

Protesters walk up Kirkfieldbank Brae last month, to highlight the route pupils will have to walk. (Submitted pic'ture)
Protesters walk up Kirkfieldbank Brae last month, to highlight the route pupils will have to walk. (Submitted pic'ture)

SOUTH Lanarkshire Council is expected to go ahead with its plans to increase the distance for senior pupils to qualify for free school buses when it meets next month.

dBut it may delay the start of the change, from two miles to three miles, after Education Scotland raised concerns about the amount of time parents were being given to make alternative arrangements.

The council expects to save £650,000 a year by cutting the free transport – a move which will affect 520 pupils in Clydesdale – and went out to consultation with its plans early this year.

In a report issued on Friday, it revealed that it had received a total of 1804 responses, with 1696 (94 per cent) opposing the change.

From Clydesdale, 184 responses were received about Lesmahagow High, 22 responses about Biggar High, 52 about Lanark Grammar, and 49 about Carluke High.

And the biggest single worry, from 1410 respondents, was concern over safe walking routes to school, with a lack of alternative methods of transport close behind from 1097 of those responding.

One protest took place in Lanark, with parents of children at Kirkfieldbank horrified at the narrow winding road up Kirkfieldbank Brae being considered a safe route.

The council, in its report, states that its criteria for evaluating safe walking routes are those drawn up by the West of Scotland Road Safety Forum Guidelines.

It assumes that the child is being accompanied by “a responsible adult”.

But in their comments HM Inspectors of Schools pointed out that there was “almost universal opposition to the proposal” from pupils, parents and the wider communities.

“The council needs to address the significant and reasonable concerns of those who had responded.

“The council should, as a matter of urgency, ensure that all those affected by the proposal or who will become affected by it in the next two years, are properly informed,” they said.

“It needs to address the concerns about the identification of safe walking routes and any issues of congestion around schools.”

And the inspectors said that the council should review the proposed timescale for bringing in the change.

For more on this story, pick up a copy of this week’s Carluke and Lanark Gazette.