Updated ‘walking to school’ policy is long overdue

Braving the snow and the ice on Friday to demonstrate the safety issues that can be found of the 'safe' walking route from Craigmarloch  to Greenfaulds High
Braving the snow and the ice on Friday to demonstrate the safety issues that can be found of the 'safe' walking route from Craigmarloch to Greenfaulds High
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North Lanarkshire Council has accepted that its current ‘Walking Routes to School’ criteria is badly outdated.

As the council is considering cutting school transportation focus has fallen on where children are expected to walk in order to get to school.

SNP councillor Fiona Fotheringham put forward a motion to the full council last week demanding action.

She recently undertook the ‘safe’ walking route from Wishawhill to St Thomas’s Primary and likened part of the journey to ‘playing chicken’.

Councillor Fotheringham said: “Having now experienced it for myself I have to say that the ‘safe’ walking route feels anything but ‘safe’ and I know this will be the same for routes all across North Lanarkshire.

“At one point we had to cross the Heathery Roundabout, which has no lights, no zebra crossing, no crossing patrollers and it was like playing chicken, the thought of primary school age children negotiating such a busy road, even while being accompanied by an adult is appalling.”

Council leader Jim Logue welcomed the motion, saying: “I agree that some of our policies are very outdated.”

He then asked the council’s assistant chief executive (infrastructure) Robert Steenson to address members.

Mr Steenson revealed the current ‘Walking Routes to School’ policy is now over 20 years old and would prepare a report for the next meeting of the infrastructure committee, which will meet in February.

Councillor Fotheringham added: “It is a something of a disgrace that any council policy hasn’t been updated for 20 years, but I am glad we now seem to be seeing some movement and I look forward to the report coming to committee next year.”

Meanwhile, parents and children from Craigmarloch have been demonstrating the safety issues encountered on the walk to Greenfaulds High.

Mum-of-three Irene James said: “I certainly applaud the council’s efforts to encourage active transport, but I have real concerns over the safety of our particular route to school, and am certain that this will be similar for many schools in Cumbernauld because of the particular layout of the town.

”I was fairly horrified to learn during the consultation meeting at Greenfaulds High School that ‘personal safety’ is not a factor which is assessed when determining the safety of walking routes to schools. Surely this should be one of the most important factors.”