Thursday Feb. 18Th. 2010 to Cotton Street for the full council meeting; the agenda suggested that it would be a quite event and no doubt the SNP led administration were hoping for just that; on arrival however their hopes were sunk as on approaching they saw a large crowd, a large; irate; raucous crowd. Loud hailers, banners; placards; in fact all the bits and pieces usually associated with a demonstration were in evidence, what made this one different though was the large number of children in attendance.
It was of course an education issue which has become synonymous with trouble for the SNP / Lib. Dems. in Renfrewshire. The fact that they have cut some £12 Million from the schools budget; devastated teacher numbers; got rid of classroom assistants; cut music tuition; left some teachers with no choice but to go into their own pockets to buy teaching materials; destroyed pupil and staff morale; reduced Renfrewshire to the worst pupil teacher ratios in Scottish secondary schools and second worst in primaries helps to explain that trouble and the very palpable anger of these protesters.
They were a good natured if angry crowd and the catalyst for this event was the SNP’s latest callous assault on some of our most defenceless citizens, children, a pattern emerges here as they have subjected the vulnerable elderly to uncaring attacks by taking away their wardens and now quite incredibly even for the SNP cancelled their annual trip ‘doon the water’ don’t be young and don’t get old under the SNP. This most recent assault on education takes the form of a cutback in school transport, under Labour; children who lived more than 2 miles from the school were given a bus pass now under this SNP gang it will be 3 miles, as many as 5/600 kids will now have walk to school some of them as far as 2.99 miles in all kinds of weather and over busy roads, the SNP say they have identified safe walking routes to school the parents and kids say that is absolute nonsense.
The protestors packed the council chamber and despite this not being an agenda item every Labour councillor who spoke managed to raise the bus issue to loud cheering from the packed gallery; this was a bad; bad day for the SNP/Lib. Dem. administration; they were vilified and rightly so, and believe me this aint over yet. The SNP councillors took a vow of silence claiming that it was not an agenda item even education convener Cllr. Cameron SNP said nothing and wrapped herself in the same craven defence. There is however no mess that the SNP can find itself in which can’t be made worse by the intervention of their hapless leader Derek Mackay; he of the feet full of bullet holes. During a debate on the Renfrew Ferry he all of a sudden blundered into the school bus issue much to the surprise and bafflement of his silent colleagues, Provost Lawson who chaired the meeting had spent a lot of time yelling at Labour councillors “school buses are not on the agenda it's out of order” she looked at her leader with an expression which I imagine she hasn’t worn since her children were very young, what can you say? he’s a born leader right?
What are the parents and children heated about? what might happen to worry them? Well; let’s see; if next January/February’s weather is anything like this year the pupils might not be in a fit state to learn anything by the time they reach school; will they be obliged to sit through lessons freezing and drenched to the skin; could that cause health problems? Is it possible that in such conditions truancy rates might rise; will that affect their advancement; here’s one for the Catholic Church; as the overwhelming number of children excluded will be Catholics will pupil numbers drop in Catholic Schools?
Last but certainly not least; God forbid but; what if one these debarred children who are forced to walk meets with an accident while going to school? not impossible in dark wintry mornings; ‘accidents happen’ I hear the SNP say which is of course true but; how are they going to feel, how is the child going to feel, the parents going to feel if it turns out that under a Labour administration the injured child would have been safe on a school bus. An appalling scenario but; one which on its own would persuade me to discard this truly heartless and reckless decision, it’s time for the SNP to think again and do the decent thing for once.