Meeting to take place as bus stop stays put

Isobel and Andrew Houston, Joanne Marshall, Shauneen King and son Aidan.  US1538-526cd  Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Isobel and Andrew Houston, Joanne Marshall, Shauneen King and son Aidan. US1538-526cd Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The MP for Lagan Valley Jeffrey Donaldson has said he will meet with the Education Authority to find a resolution to a bus stop problem on Ballymacoss Avenue off the Knockmore Road.

Parents of three children who attend Brookfield School, say they are being forced to use the new stop which they claim is both unsafe and dangerous.

The Education Authority, in a statement revealed they were not planning to change the new bus stop despite the dangers highlighted by the concerned parents, last week.

In a statement the EA said, “The Authority has a statutory requirement under Article 52 of the Education and Libraries (NI) Order which requires Education and Library Boards, with the approval of the Department, to make such arrangements as they consider necessary to facilitate the attendance of pupils at grant-aided schools.

“In line with the above statute, transport arrangements are determined and provided in accordance with Department of Education Circular 1996/41 (updated September 2009) which has been effective since 1997. 

“The Authority would confirm that all bus routes are established having regard to vehicle and route optimization, school commencement times, safety, distance and time travelled.

“In order to ensure all children arrive at school in time for the start of the school day pick up points are used.

“The Authority would advise that it normally only provides a door to door service where a pupil has a special transport need or where the bus route is already passing the pupils door and it is safe to pick-up at that point.

“The Authority has ‘no obligation to assist with travel for the whole of a journey, provided that the remainder of the journey does not exceed the statutory qualifying distance - two miles in relation to a pupil under 11 years of age’.

“In this regard, parents are responsible for facilitating the portion of the journey to meet with the designated services and supervise children to and from their allocated pick-up/drop-off points.

“The Authority would confirm that the allocated pick-up point for pupils attending Brookfield School who reside in the Windermere area of Lisburn is the Ulsterbus Stop on Ballymacoss Avenue, off the Knockmore Road. “The Authority accepts that there are potential road safety hazards and dangers at any pick-up and drop-off point, however this is a matter for the parent to consider.

“The Authority would expect that a child is accompanied as necessary by a responsible parent or guardian.”

One of the parents Isobel Houston classed the decision not to budge on the matter as ‘disgraceful and unreasonsable.’

She said on one occasion when she was collecting her son inside the Supervalu car park and whilst making her way over the bus pulled in.

She said before she got to the bus, the doors opened and her son was able to get past the bus assistant and driver and run across the busy car park to her.

“The school transport comes right up into Windermere for other special needs school and even for the older children attending secondary,” she claimed. “Our children are at a special needs primary school and are picked up earlier than most at 7.30pm and are still expected to meet at a pick-up drop-off point just outside Supervalu which is dangerous and we have the furtherest to come.

“We are not asking for our children to be collected from the door however, we do want a stop in Winderemere that would be both safer and more suitable.”

Shauneen King, said as she was attempting to put her child onto the bus at the busy car park her child ran away from her all the way to their Winderemere home.

Joanne Marshall, she has a daily 25 minute walk to the bus stop with her daughter who has a problem with her foot.