Council changes decision on school transport

Tuesday June 25th 2019

Dalkeith Campus

Written by Midlothian View Editor, Phil Bowen

Midlothian Council has unanimously agreed to reverse a decision taken earlier this year to extend the distance at which school transport is provided from 2 to 3 miles.

The council has instead called on its officials to prepare a full equality assessment and consult with parents, care givers, pupil representatives and head teachers before reviewing the decision further.

The motion calling on the council to overturn its decision pointed to concerns that extending the distance for school transport would disadvantage pupils living in the extended radius, which includes some of Midlothian’s most deprived areas.

Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Jim Muirhead agreed that the proposals, which were due to take effect from this August, had caused parents stress and that further consultation was needed.

It had been proposed to axe two school buses, one each from Mayfield and Eskbank to the Dalkeith Schools Campus. Parents from Dalkeith High School and St David’s were very concerned by the proposed cuts, the lack of consultation and the proposed safer walking routes.

When the affected parents started to receive letters from the council three weeks ago a group of parents created a Facebook page to fight the cut. Quite quickly the group had over 140 members. After a combination of public meetings, emails, letters and meetings with councillors they are now very pleased with the u-turn.

Chair of Dalkeith High School’s Parent Council, Caroline Pearson, said:

“We are delighted that councillors have reversed this decision. The policy and its implementation were badly flawed. We do acknowledge the very tough financial landscape that Midlothian Council is working within however, and will work with the council to find solutions where possible.”

Julie Sutherland, one of the parents leading the fight agains the cuts said:

“Great result today, we fully appreciate that cuts are needed but we are very glad that there is now time to fully consult on the proposals, and allow a full analysis of the bus transport making safety of our children priority and ensuring it is equal for all.”

SNP Councillor Alexander, who raised the motion to reverse the controversial decision said:

“I’m delighted that this decision passed unanimously, it’s absolutely imperative that we get these things right, and make sure that we listen, and act on concerns.”

Councillor Kelly Parry SNP, who seconded the motion, said:

“This will be a huge relief for worried parents and pupils, all parties recognised this and also recognised that there are lessons to be learned from the process.”

Normally the discussion and subsequent decision would be available to watch on the council meeting’s webcast, however, a technical issue meant that that part of the meeting was not recorded.

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