Comhairle refuse to allow School Transport debate

COUNCILLORS last night (Thursday) refused to allow a debate on a proposal to delay the start of the new Home to School Transport Policy.

An amendment was put forward by SNP councillor Gordon Murray to to ‘delay consideration of implementing the Home to School Transport Policy in order to properly define each safe route to school and to closer examine the savings or benefits’.

To allow the issue to be debated required the suspension of standing orders but this was rejected by councillors.

A statement from the SNP Group following the meeting said: “It beggars belief that the majority of our fellow Councillors wouldn’t even allow the matter to be debated. How on earth can they go back to their Wards and explain that?

The Comhairle leadership has already acknowledged that the way parents were notified about the policy - and the financial demands made on the parents in letters received a few days before the start of term - was a disaster and here was an opportunity for the Comhairle to take a reasonable approach to redress matters.”

They added: “Cllr Murray proposed that his motion - costing £28,000 - be funded from an unexpected and recently received £1,100,000 dividend from the BCCI debacle but this required two thirds of the Councillors to vote in favour of holding a debate. While seven Councillors did vote to have a debate, a staggering 22 Councillors voted against and so children whose parents can’t afford bus passes - or who have no car - or have young ones at home they can’t leave - now face the prospect of walking to school in winter darkness and in gales and lashing rain on roads with no footpaths or lights.”

In a separate move, SNP Councillor Philip McLean has under the Comhairle’s standing order procedure asked for a report outlining exactly what the criteria for determining ‘safe routes’ are, and for this report to be put to the next meeting of the Comhairle’s Audit and Scrutiny Committee.