A ‘walking bus’ has been suggested as an interim solution to help pupils from Clooney, Bond’s Street and Lincoln Court get to the new Ebrington Primary School in Caw safely whilst the Waterside Greenway is completed over the next year.
Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Environment and Regeneration Committee, however, were warned the local authority would be stepping outside its statutory remit if it provided £1,345 towards the cost of a bus from the central Waterside to the new school site.
Parents of pupils from the area have complained that with the completion of the new greenway delayed until summer 2018, it’s too dangerous for young children to be walking to school along the busy Limavady Road.
At the council’s monthly meeting in April members ordered that a report be completed to consider the provision of financial assistance for a bus in conjunction with parents, local business and the school.
The completed report was presented to the Environment and Regeneration Committee on Wednesday. It recommended that the council should continue to develop the Waterside Greenway and if it is not completed by September 2018, instead of financial funding, to assist the school with an active travel arrangement whereby the school and community are supported to introduce guided walking/cycling to/from school.
The Director of Environment and Regeneration Karen Philips warned any provision of funding would be closely scrutinised by the Northern Ireland Audit Office and that a precedent could be set for other school petitions if monies were allocated.
DUP Alderman David Ramsey said the school and Clooney Estate Residents’ Association were not “looking for a lot of money” but agreed to support the officers’ recommendation with the proviso that the council helps the community explore other potential funding sources.