Transport cuts make emotions run high

COUNCIL cuts to services for children are an emotive issue, and when those cuts affect youngsters with special needs, feelings run even higher.

COUNCIL cuts to services for children are an emotive issue, and when those cuts affect youngsters with special needs, feelings run even higher.

It can be difficult to take a subjective view, but sometimes it's only dispassionate scrutiny which can offer clarity of judgement.

We can sympathise with parents who are opposing North Somerset Council plans to offload 19 school bus services for vulnerable children to the private sector.

After all, it's only natural for them to want to protect their children by preserving the comfort and security afforded by an established routine under the watchful eye of expert staff.


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"I need to know my son will feel comfortable on his school journey and I'm not sure that this will be the case if the current arrangement is changed," the concerned parent of one child with special needs said this week.

It's also understandable that bus drivers who would fall victim to the cuts oppose the idea too.

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The current employment market is an uncertain one, and no-one will relish the prospect of losing their job in today's climate.

Two compelling arguments for preserving the status quo, certainly, yet perhaps we need to look beyond the emotions evoked by this issue in weighing up the pros and cons.

The council says transferring services to the private sector will save �359,000, and it's difficult to criticise an idea which saves public money.

If handled sensitively, the change could cause minimum disruption to service users, and could even see some jobs simply transferred from public sector to private.

But this need for sensitivity is the key factor. Unions say the council has failed to adequately consult with service users, arguing decision makers care only about the bottom line, with scant regard for the people involved.

So while it's difficult to argue against the need for financial prudence, one thing we can all agree on is the need to understand human need as well - let's hope that proper consultation is carried out and genuine regard paid to the needs of everyone involved.

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