Rachel Johnston and mum Donna
A pregnant mum who lives only feet away from the catchment area for a school bus is challenging the council’s decision not to provide her daughter with a seat.
Rachel Johnston, eight-years-old, does a two-mile round trip to and from Calderbridge Primary and the family home in Gala Crescent, while others in her street get a free bus pass.
But mum Donna does double that distance and has been ordered by doctors not to go out walking as she is experiencing a difficult pregnancy.
North Lanarkshire Council provide free transport for primary school pupils who, taking the “shortest acceptable route,” have to walk more than a mile to school.
Donna, seven months pregnant, disputes the council’s calculation that her home lies under the one-mile mark and thinks the route the council suggested she walk is “not acceptable”.
She said: “I wouldn’t walk it myself never mind let a kid. It’s covered in bottles and cans and gangs hang about.
“I’ve had to walk past groups of junkies, and I’m paranoid they will attack her. If something happened to a child there, no one would hear them.”
Donna added: “I’m not allowed to walk Rachel anywhere just now, and there’s no one I could ask to take her.
“Plus, Rachel has asthma and finds it tiring to walk all that way, in winter especially.”
The school bus takes a longer route through the main road network and Donna thinks this is the only route the council should consider measuring.
Meanwhile, the council is considering increasing the one-mile exclusion zone to two miles (the legal limit) as part of its £73million cuts package in order to save one million pounds between 2014-2016 on transport.
This would mean no one in the Gala Crescent would be entitled to a bus pass.
Another mum from Gala Crescent, who wants to remain anonymous, said: “I think it’s ludicrous they could expect young kids to walk two miles to school, especially in the bad weather, and considering how young they are.
“The cut-off point is practically in my back garden and I eventually got a privileged bus pass for my child.
“But after two weeks it was taken off me again as someone else had qualified for the seat.”
A spokesperson for the council said: “Staff carried out measurements in September this year and only number 42-48 and 71-77 Gala Crescent are entitled to free transport.
“The walking routes have been assessed by roads and transportation and were assessed as being acceptable walking routes in accordance with the criteria for suitable walking routes to school.
“Free transport is awarded to pupils who reside more than a mile away from their catchment school.
“Pupils not awarded privilege transport will remain on the waiting list should any seats become available.
“There is currently a 22-seater bus carrying out this contract. There are only 20 pupils on the bus and only space for two privilege pupils. We received 25 privilege applications for transport for the Calderbridge school bus.”