ALLIANCE Councillor Sara Duncan (Castlereagh West) has said that a new footpath officially launched yesterday leading to Lagan College must not be used to justify taking pupils’ bus passes off them.
Cash-strapped education boards have argued that the Manse Road is no longer dangerous for children to use because of the new footpath, and have used this reason to remove transport assistance to children living less than three miles from the school.
After the official opening of the footpath by Minister John Spellar yesterday, Cllr Duncan stated: “This road is still not completely safe, although I welcome this new footpath as a step in the right direction. When Alliance contacted the PSNI recently, they told me that there were 10 road traffic collisions from April to September 2004 on the section of Manse Road between Lagan College and the Ballygowan Road alone.
“Yet this wasn’t even considered by the Board. I was also disappointed to learn that a traffic survey was carried out in the middle of the summer holidays at one of the least busy times of the day. This survey did not abide by the Board’s own guidelines, and should have been binned.
“There are children who started Lagan College who started the school on the premise that they would receive transport assistance. Now their bus passes are being taken away, leading to unforeseen costs for parents, who may be on a low income.
“I welcome the new footpath as the first step towards greater safety for Lagan College pupils, but for the local education boards to say the road is now safe enough to remove bus passes based on the results of a flawed survey is ridiculous.”