Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 13:28 GMT on Saturday, 1st December 2012.
Town’s MSP takes pupil safety concerns to the Scottish Parliament


Picture is copyright of Save Abronhill High School Working Group.

CUMBERNAULD and Kilsyth’s MSP has raised his concerns with the safety of the route which pupils could have to walk if Abronhill and Cumbernauld High School are merged next year.

 

Jamie Hepburn, SNP MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth raised his concerns about the poor walking routes between Abronhill and Cumbernauld High School in the Scottish Parliament earlier this week.

 
 

Mr Hepburn has been campaigning with a variety of parents, pupils and other members of the local community against North Lanarkshire Council's proposal to close Abronhill High School at the end of the school year, and transfer the pupils there to Cumbernauld High School, starting at the beginning of the next school year.  A key concern that has been raised by many has been the poor nature of routes for pupils from the Abronhill area to Cumbernauld High School.

 

Such concerns formed a key component of Mr Hepburn's own submission to the Council's consultation in which he called for the local authority to ditch its plans to close Abronhill High School, and instead turn the site into a community hub, comprising the school and other facilities, and to invest in a new school for Cumbernauld High.

 

At Education and Lifelong Learning Questions in the Parliament on Wednesday 28th November, Mr Hepburn took the opportunity to raise the issue of poor walking routes from Abronhill to Cumbernauld High School with Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages.

 

The text of Mr Hepburn's exchange with Dr Allan was as follows:

 

Jamie Hepburn (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth) (SNP): “To ask the Scottish Government what guidance it provides to local authorities to deliver safe transport routes to schools.”

 

Dr Alasdair Allan: “Safe transport routes to school are a matter for individual local authorities.  The Scottish Government provides funding to Sustrans to work with schools and local authorities to encourage schools to develop travel plans for their pupils and teachers and to identify safe routes in their areas.  In addition, in 2010 Transport Scotland funded the Transport Research Laboratory to produce a guide to improving school travel safety.  The TRL is currently undertaking a review of the use of the school travel guide and will report its findings in early 2013.”

 

Jamie Hepburn: “I thank the minister for that answer.  As the minister may be aware, North Lanarkshire Council plans to close Abronhill high school and to transfer its pupils to Cumbernauld high school, which would involve pupils from Abronhill walking to school along some routes that are considered to be very unsafe—they are very remote, go through wooded areas and are very poor underfoot.  Many parents and pupils are concerned about the proposal.  Does the minister agree that it is important that North Lanarkshire Council take those concerns very seriously indeed, before it comes to any decision on the future of the schools?”

 

Dr Allan: “Yes—indeed I do.  Although any change in the route that is taken to the school is obviously a matter for the local authority to consider, I hope that North Lanarkshire Council will consider very seriously indeed any representations and concerns that are put to it by parents.  It is obviously important for pupils and their parents that they are able to get to and from schools safely.  I am aware that North Lanarkshire Council’s consultation on the proposal to close Abronhill high school has recently ended, and my understanding is that the council plans to take a final decision in the new year.”

 

Speaking outside of the Scottish Parliament Chamber, Mr Hepburn said: “I was delighted that Alasdair Allan agreed with the suggestion that North Lanarkshire Council must take very seriously indeed the concerns being expressed by a great number of people about the quality of walking route between Abronhill and Cumbernauld High School.

 

“Having taken part in two walks along this route with members of the local community I can well understand these concerns. In many parts, the pathways are very remote from the closest housing, going through a wooded area immediately adjacent to a steep edge that falls down to the railway line.  This is to say nothing of the poor quality of some of these paths underfoot.

 

“Safety is paramount for any parent.  They want to know that their child has the safest possible route between home and school. I do not believe that these routes can in any way be described as falling into that category.

 

“I hope then that North Lanarkshire takes these concerns on board and reconsiders that their plans for the future of Abronhill High School.”


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