Swann urges rural transport rethink

Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Assemblyman and member of the Stormont Culture and Agriculture Committees, has called on the North Eastern Education and Library Board to rethink its decision to scrap school transport in rural areas.

However, Mr Swann, who is also North Antrim UUP Association Chairman and Party Chief Whip, also said “very serious questions needed to be answered” about the motives behind the NEELB’s decision to withdraw school bus routes in rural areas.

Mr Swann said: “In February this year, the NEELB presented the Education Minister with a viability audit of primary schools in the NEELB area.

“Using a number of criteria, this report was to form the basis of consultation and discussion about primary school provision.

“Now after the end of the school year and when the Assembly has risen for the summer break, limiting the ability of MLAs to scrutinise departmental decisions, the NEELB has withdrawn school transport for primary schools across the area.

“In some areas, this will impact further on the school enrolment numbers and in the NEELB’s eyes justify questioning the viability of the school.

“Given the timing of these cancellations and the implications for schools, I can only conclude that the NEELB and the Department of Education have moved to implement Ministerial decisions on the future of primary schools before parents, teachers and elected representatives have been properly informed or consulted,” warned Assemblyman Swann.