This is a comment (and my response) sent by people who are campaigning against the SNP led council's decision to make callous and reckless cuts to school transport provision in Renfrewshire; I have decided to print it as an article for obvious reasons.
Terry, I would like to offering my public support to anyone who is opposed to the decision taken by ther SNP and the Lib Dems to effectively take away the free bus service for school childrenAs well as the meeting mentioned, in which I wasn't allowed in for lack of space (which should tell people about the anger that this decision has sparked) I was at the Education Board meeting on Thursday 25/2/10, along with around 30 concerned parents.Item 14 concerned appeals to removing free school transport.Despite opposition by the Labour Group, the religous group in the board and even the Tories, the administration gave parents another slap in the face bysignificantly watering down their right of appeal, if refused free transport.I have included a link to the report for other readers, which I hope workshttp://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/WebReplicas/agendar.nsf/00000000000000000000000000000000/03340D8AF7CB9997802576CF0053AAF3/$file/Revised%20Home%20to%20School%20Transport%20Policy%20and%20Revision%20of%20Appeals%20Procedure%20EPB%2025%2002%2010.pdfMy understanding is that The Council must provide a safe route to school and under the old system, if a parent had been refused free transport on the grounds of distance, they could appeal, either on distance or safety grounds. At that point a Councillor, presumably with council officers would walk the route and check its safety. Now, after Wednesday and in anticipation of a flood of appeals, the SNP and the Lib Dems have moved the goalposts and are placing the onus on parents to judge whether the route is unsafe and report this to the Council, at which point, the route will be investigated.I have numerous problems with this. Firstly the onus should not be put onto parents, secondly the SNP and the Lib Dems are the ones that voted to extend the qualifying distance, so they should offer to walk the routes if they are unable to deal with a flood of appeals. Finally, parents are not road nor safety experts. They should not have to be put in this kind of position.I have walked and cycled a couple of likely routes following a parents meeting at Castlehead (which was attended by Cllrs Caldwell and MacMillan, both Labour Group) and there are significant safety concerns, not least on the cycle track, which is not lit and which was the scene of a horrific sex attack last year.There is also the bridge at Elderslie, which has a very narrow pavement and fast moving traffic.These are just two routes for one school. I understand that there are even more problems with the routes to St Benedicts and St Andrews amongst others, so much so that everyone from parents councils, to community groups are all firmly against this move.Personally, I have genuine fears that this policy is going to have disastrous consequences and I am with the parents who are quite rightly furious and worried.For anyone who is opposed to this policy, I will say this - There are numerous meetings coming up, many chances to voice your opposition to this policy and I would encourage all readers of this site, whatever their politics, to get involved in opposing this decision, because whatever you think about Terry or indeed myself, surely no-one in their right mind could say that removing a free bus service for children to get get to school safely is a good idea.If you are reading this site and you do want to do something, your first port of call should be your local Councillor, and you should call on them en masse, as an organised unit. If it is a councillor of the administration, then picket outside as they go into their surgery. Opposition Councillors, at least I am certain the ones in the local Labour Group, will already be behind you, so target the ones in power, that's the SNP and Lib Dem Councillors and remember above all, that your not alone.
(My response) The SNP Lib. Dem. administration are destroying years of good progress on education in Renfrewshire this is only the last act of vandalism that they have come up with and they are not finished.
I encourage everyone who cares about our young people to get involved in the protests which are growing by the day; that means anyone who cares; this is not confined to parents; grandparents; relatives etc. it includes us all; don’t let them away with it.