Tories are suppressing opposition debate in Warwickshire
The decision by the controlling Conservatives to prevent discussion of a Labour motion at the next Warwickshire County Council meeting which tried to suspend a Tory plan to remove child assistants from school buses has been slammed by Richard Chattaway, the Leader of the Labour Group on the County Council. He said,
“All over Warwickshire thousands of parents are signing petitions protesting at this latest Tory education cut, but the Conservative Chairman of the Council ruled it out of order on technicality.
Its controlling Conservatives have decided to gag discussion of the issue and force the cut through. Not allow discussion of a Labour motion to prevent the cuts at the full Council meeting. It will now mean I will be calling a special council to debate the issue at cost to the residents that could have been avoided. .
School children as young as four will be forced to take the bus to school on their own after chaperones were axed. The Conservatives are scrapping passenger assistants – as they are formally known – as part of the Government’s austerity policies. Children between the ages of 4 and 11 are now no longer chaperoned in a Bus and the new measures are due to hit from February – even though the council says it is currently not sure exactly how much money will be saved.
Cllr Chattaway explained, “Labour have proposed that the cut should be suspended until next March and the costs of the assistants would be met from Council financial reserves until then; with a decision being made in the new year to identify cuts which will mean the assistants can be kept. The Tories have refused to allow the motion. They seems to be saying Only the council cabinet should discuss finances, which is nonsense.” He is angry at what he says is ”Its anti-democratic step by a controlling group which has become drunk on the power of its large council majority. This council is hitting the county’s most vulnerable: our children as they travel to school. Children should be a priority. Yet to the Tories they are just a cost to cut.
“This is an example of what austerity is doing to children. A bus could have 15 to 20 children on it – who will make sure they keep their seatbelt on? What happens if the vehicle gets stuck or driver falls ill? It’s a recipe for allowing bullying and misbehaviour on the buses. We need to think through these issues. We will be asking for a proper debate on this.
“Angry parents launched a petition against the plans, which received more than 1,000 signatures calling on the council to rethink the plans and says the safety of children, drivers, road users and pedestrians would be at risk as the driver’s concentration would be compromised and when it was presented at council were give two sentences of platitudes as reply by the very sheepish portfolio holder