A petition has been launched opposing council plans to scrap school bus transportation for high school pupils in South Lanarkshire.
Currently, the free buses transport pupils living within a two to three mile radius both to and from school, however, under new plans buses will only transport students who live three or more miles away from their catchment school.
Parents opposing the plans have claimed that it means some children would need to walk up to six miles per day, in all weather conditions and darkness, with an average commute time to and from school of around two hours.
They argued: “These additional two hours manifest in a longer school day for children. Subsequently, a considerable length of time added to each day will be spent neither learning, engaged in extracurricular activity, or indeed with their families.
“It will also most certainly impact on both children’s education and wellbeing, whilst impeding overall development and productivity in school.”
Concerns were also raised about the safety of walking routes suggested by South Lanarkshire Council due to the presence of ditches, a riverbank, unlit pathways and dangerous ground conditions including flooding.
The petition added that the suggested route is “often subject to illegal fly tipping and the disposal of hazardous substances, including paraphernalia used for drug taking”.
Additionally, in a bid to ensure safety, it was claimed that South Lanarkshire Council had suggested parents accompany their children on the walk.
It was argued that this would have a subsequent impact on employers, forcing parents to “take time out of their working day in efforts to ensure their children arrive at school and return home safely”.
A consultation on the matter has now been opened by the council and will run until March 1.
Carole McKenzie, executive director of education resources at South Lanarkshire Council said: “The executive committee approved a statutory consultation on this matter, which started on January 15 and will run until March 1.
“The options to consider are whether to continue providing the current level of service, or a service that is more in keeping with the rest of Scotland and more in line with our statutory levels of service provision.
“Pressures on the budget for education, and indeed the wider council budget, mean we have to consider all options. This is a result of severe financial constraints on the service.
“If we do proceed with this proposal, it means that the impact of budget cuts that directly affect pupils’ learning and classroom resources can be lessened.
“I understand that this proposal may cause some anxiety as we move forward with the consultation. It is important that everyone’s views are listened to, and that is the purpose of the consultation.”
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