THE WOMAN who organised the Kirkfieldbank Brae protest march against planned cuts to school bus services has slammed South Lanarkshire Council’s consultation as “another expensive whitewash”.
Julia Marrs has accused the council of “riding roughshod” over the concerns of parents.
As reported last week, 94 per cent of those responding to the consultation on the proposal to restrict free school buses to those living three miles, rather than two miles away from high schools, opposed it, mostly on safety grounds.
“A lot of the rhetoric of the report is similar to the tone of the public meetings and does little to allay the fears of concerned parents,” said Julia.
She was dismissive of a statement by the council that it would work with Strathclyde Passenger Transport and local bus companies to increase public bus services.
“This has no real value to parents,” she said.
“I understand that certainly in the Lanark area SPT are primarily running buses between Hamilton and Lanark for linkage purposes with rail services and as such have no plans to change their service to fit better with school times.
“It is unfair for SLC to expect smaller private bus operators with limited space on routes to take on the role of school transport and while they may be sympathetic, the situation becomes untenable when buses are full and school children are left behind.”
And Julia added: “Throughout the report SLC have paid little heed to parents’ clarion concerns of safety and academic attainment of pupils forced to walk long distances to and from school.
“The council have ignored common sense that tired, potentially wet children find it more difficult to concentrate in class and that local knowledge is often more useful than facts and figures which haven’t been compiled.
“The most worrying aspect is in the section detailing safe walking routes.
“The council remain determined that routes well known as dangerous are in their opinion safe despite deep reservations from MPs, MSPs and opposition councillors to the extent of motions against these cuts being raised in both the UK and Scottish Parliaments.
“SLC are quite frankly riding roughshod over their constituents’ concerns, and I have to ask what the point of the consultation was.
“If 94 per cent of respondents opposing a policy is not enough, what would it take for SLC to listen to the electorate? In all, another expensive whitewash.”
The council will make a final decision next month.