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Hereford Times opinion: stop this school transport plan
9:24am Thursday 10th October 2013 in News
HEREFORDSHIRE Council’s plan to save on school transport should go no further in its present form.
As pitched on paper, the changes are too much, too soon.
If a compromise has to be found then let there be consultation over the potential for a phased implementation of the council’s intentions.
Parents have long accepted the idea of “parental choice” over schools as largely illusory.
Those same parents cannot now be pushed headlong into decisions that put already precarious household finances at stake in gambling with young lives.
We say what is proposed is not worth it.
Already, it is apparent that the plan’s foundation definition of “nearest” school is all too easily undermined by defining “nearest” as a geographic anomaly.
There is no time - or patience - for anomaly in the everyday reality experienced by the majority of an increasingly alienated electorate caring little for the obsessive, and increasingly poisonous, politicking now emanating out of Brockington.
Frankly, that majority is too busy dealing with everyday realities like getting the kids to school.
Stopping the proposed transport plan is a real chance for the council to show it has not lost touch with that reality.
A chance for the council to say that majority: “We know where you are coming from, try to understand where we are.”
Surely, that is a better place from which a future for school transport can be progressed beyond a starting point for “oncoming headlights” conflict.
The council blundered badly a few years back over its plan to close or amalgamate rural schools. Whatever logic there was to the council’s case then was quickly lost to confusion as to who was driving the plan and why.
As that confusion manifested itself, the plan’s credibility crumbled, taking much of the then council’s credibility with it.
Neither the council nor the county can afford to go through all that again.
So we say to the council, turn this plan around. Make it about the decisions you have face and not decisions you are forcing others to make.
Have the strength to say “this goes too far” and the humility to ask how far should it go.
Real, everyday lives are dependent on decisions such as this. The taking of those decisions, then, should be grounded in real, everyday reality.
That is nothing more than those parents, pupils, and schools directly affected deserve.
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