Labour politicians secure pledge to examine commercial school bus routes in Bargeddie and Stepps.

-Credit: (Image: Daily Record)
-Credit: (Image: Daily Record)

Labour politicians state they have secured a pledge to examine commercial school bus routes in Bargeddie and Stepps.

Positive discussions have taken place between election candidates Frank McNally and Katrina Murray and McGill’s Buses about establishing a new commercial route from Bargeddie to Coatbridge, via Blair Road, and from Stepps to Chryston High School.

These routes would replace school buses which have stopped following North Lanarkshire Council’s decision to adopt Scottish Government guidelines on school transport criteria and would be available free of charge to all pupils, using their under 22s bus pass.

Frank McNally, who is standing at the General Election in Coatbridge and Bellshill, said: “Discussions with McGill’s Buses are at an advanced stage and I am grateful to them.

“After more than a decade of deep Scottish Government imposed cuts to North Lanarkshire Council, and yet more to come in April, it was impossible to have a blanket reversal of last year’s decision to move to Scottish Government guidelines on school transport.

“It is also now clear that the Scottish Government will not review its outdated transport guidance or provide recurring funds for school transport on the existing thresholds.

“However, as I have said consistently, I am concerned about the routes from Bargeddie to St Ambrose and Coatbridge High and have been engaging with McGill’s about a replacement commercial route.

“These discussions have been positive and, should the proposed routes go ahead, this will allow children in Bargeddie to continue to get a bus to school free of charge.”

In a bid to save £3.6million, North Lanarkshire Council has agreed to change qualifying mileage limits for free school transport from one mile to two miles for primary school pupils, and two to three miles for secondary school pupils.

Concerned parents have been fighting to have the local authority reverse the decision and a motion brought by SNP councillors on Thursday would have postponed the change for the coming school year.

It sought to use £2.088million from an £8million surplus in council finances, as a one off resource, to continue providing free school transport for high school pupils for the next school year.

However, councillors voted 40-35 in favour of a Labour amendment which instead noted a letter sent from council leader Jim Logue to the Scottish Government, calling for a review of statutory guidance on the mileage provision and assessment of safe walking routes, as well as emergency funding.

Ralph Roberts, of McGill’s Buses said: “McGill’s understands the situation that councils finds themselves in, however, there have to be exceptions based on safety and these two routes are not suitable for kids to walk, year round, to and from school.

“The first service would run from Bargeddie to Coatbridge, serving both St Ambrose High and Coatbridge High. The second service would run from Stepps to Chryston High School. These services would be available for high school students in the area to use, free of charge using their young person’s concessionary bus pass.

“These routes are being looked at closely and we will provide an update in due course.”

*Don't miss the latest headlines from around Lanarkshire. Sign up to our newsletters here.

And did you know Lanarkshire Live had its own app? Download yours for free here.