Jan 20 2010 by Judith Tonner, Airdrie & Coatbridge
AN Airdrie councillor has blasted the decision to reopen Monklands’ schools on the first day of term despite side streets and car parks not having been cleared.
Sophia Coyle says she was “inundated” with calls from angry parents who kept their children at home instead of battling the icy conditions.
Council officials warned in advance that vehicle access would be difficult, school transport would stick to main roads and side streets were unlikely to be cleared.
However, the SNP representative for Airdrie North said: “If the paths and roads to schools weren’t cleared and gritted, then classes shouldn’t have been on.
“My phone was constant on the first day of school and I really think they should have been closed if these areas weren’t cleaned and treated as a priority along with main roads.
“Places like Plains and Caldercruix were very difficult to access in any case and many housing schemes were non-driveable.
“Several families couldn’t get their kids to school because there wasn’t a path made for them to walk on and the access roads and car parks weren’t gritted for staff either.
“The ice is very hard underneath, and who would be held responsible if any of the pupils should be hurt in an accident because of the conditions?
“I’ve asked people to put their complaints in writing as I’ve been pleading since before Christmas for help, especially for outlying villages, but I feel totally ashamed and embarrassed that they’re going unanswered.”
Council education officer Ron Dufour said: “The council took the decision not to close all schools because weather and road conditions varied enormously across North Lanarkshire.
“To close schools unilaterally did not take that into account and had potentially serious consequences for parents who would be unable to work if their children could not attend.
“Maintenance staff worked hard to make sure there was safe access to schools for all pupils and while most access roads were not cleared, arrangements were made for buses to pick up and drop off students at the nearest main road. Access routes and ramps in and around special schools were treated, and where special needs pupils needed extra help to get to school that was provided.
“The council has done everything possible to make sure all its services continued to operate as normal during this spell of severe weather and opening schools was just one example.
“Ultimately, we gave parents a choice and the fact that most of our pupils attended school as normal showed that was the right thing to do.”