THE NEW administration leading South Lanarkshire Council has committed to helping young people access their right to free bus travel.
Everyone in Scotland under the age of 22 is entitled to a free bus pass. This area has the worst uptake in the country, with a whopping 87 per cent of youngsters missing out.
A week after their new progressive partnership took office, the Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders made clear their administration will order the council to help young people get their passes.
Council Leader Joe Fagan, the leader of the Labour Group, said: “The figures clearly show this council needs to do more.
“It is simply unacceptable that only 13 per cent of our young people can access the free bus travel that they are entitled to get.
“Compare this to Inverclyde Council, where the administration made supporting applications a priority – their rate is 80 per cent.”
He continued: “Free bus travel keeps families’ living costs down and improves access to education, training, leisure and jobs.
“The partnership Labour and the Liberal Democrat administration has made clear a responsible council, acting in the best interests of our young people, should help them apply for it.
“Last week I asked council officers to do more and I’m glad to say that work is now being intensified.”
Cllr Robert Brown is the leader of the Liberal Democrats Group and the council’s chair of Community and Enterprise. He said: “The application process for bus passes is needlessly complicated.
“It is ridiculous that the Scottish Government scheme requires children as young as five get an official entitlement card, which depends on families having ID like passports and proof of address.
“This obviously puts up barriers that stop children and young people getting the free travel they are legally entitled to.
“The Liberal Democrats and Labour formed a progressive partnership administration to make a difference for South Lanarkshire, and we insist that the council steps-up.
“Access to bus travel is crucial for people’s quality of life and our local environment.
“While this avoidable problem was entirely made by the Scottish Government, the council must do more to help youngsters overcome it.”
Information on the under 22s bus pass and how to apply can be found at www.mygov.scot/under-22s-bus-pass.