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Anger over closure of school bus depot in Lisnaskea

THE Education Authority has announced the closure of the school bus depot in Lisnaskea. 
The closure is due to take place next Friday, November 30th with the EA bus depot services being moved to Enniskillen.
Vehicle maintenance services which were previously carried out in Lisnaskea have already been transferred to Enniskillen, while a small amount of bodywork repair was still being carried out in Lisnaskea. 
A spokesman for the EA confirmed the closure claiming ‘it was no longer considered viable to keep a site of this size open for limited use. All relevant EA transport staff have been informed of the site closure.’
Unite the Union regional officer with responsibility for school bus drivers here, Gareth Scott, has blasted the plans.
“Unite has raised our fears repeatedly with the EA that their plans will impact the safety of school children travelling to school from rural parts of east Fermanagh. 
“School bus drivers have been concerned by EA’s suggestions that they can simply fuel up at commercial forecourts. The reality is that there are no suitable facilities in Lisnaskea to facilitate safe turning space for school buses.”
Unite officer and school bus driver himself, Ciaran McCallion, added his voice of condemnation for the EA proposal.
“Aside from issues about using commercial forecourts, the drivers in Lisnaskea have concerns that shutting down the Lisnaskea depot will leave them entirely reliant on replacement buses coming from Enniskillen in the case of an early morning breakdown.
 “Given that there won’t be anyone on duty in Enniskillen first thing, the large distances involved, and the poor road system in Fermanagh, this will mean that should a bus fail to start in Roslea or Newtownbutler children could be left to wait up to an hour in icy-cold conditions,” he said.
A spokesman for the EA denied that the closure will have any impact on children’s safety saying, “The closure of the Lisnaskea site will in no way impact on the safety of children. 
“As previously stated the Lisnaskea site had limited use in recent years therefore its closure will have minimal impact on the services provided by EA. 
“The EA is investing appropriately in the Enniskillen Depot, however would stress that it does not envisage extra pressures as a result of this decision.”
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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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