An angry rant at the Belfast Telegraph

I read an article in the Belfast Telegraph this afternoon and it's left me feeling a little bit annoyed. Annoyed at the topic, and annoyed at how such a poorly written article could even make it in to the paper in the first place. It reminded me why I stopped reading the newspapers a long time ago, because most of the stuff in it is rubbish.

The article, '£35 million spent on taxis taking children to school' claimed that a 'whopping' £35 million had been spent over the last five years to transport some children to school via taxi. They said that this had taken a sizeable chunk from the £100 million annual school transport budget in Northern Ireland.

Wow, you might think, that is over a third of the yearly budget being spent on taxis. Remember though, the £35 million spent had been over five years, which meant the actual figure was £7 million a year. Less than 10%, not quite the sizeable chunk the Belfast Telegraph were making out.

All children in Northern Ireland are entitled to free travel to their closest suitable school, if they live a certain distance away. Currently, to be eligible for transport you must live more than 2 miles away from the closest suitable primary school, or 3 miles away from the closest high school. The majority of the children entitled to travel will do so on a school bus, with only a small minority being taken to school in a taxi.

Taxi travel is generally only given to children with special educational or medical needs, and I feel that is totally justified. Some children simply cannot cope with the demands of getting on a bus with a lot of children, or need a specialist wheelchair taxi to get to and from school. For a lot of children, these taxis are essential.

A local UKIP MLA is questioning why such a substantial amount is being spent on the taxis. Apparently, he too had fallen for the telegraphs clever wording, because in a short video on their website he mentions a third of the budget being spent on them. He goes on to say that he understands that some children have a right to taxi travel, such as those with special needs. Considering they are the only children who are given taxi travel, I don't understand what point he is making?

In fact, I don't really understand the point of the whole article. Children with extra needs are being sent to school in taxis, and it is costs money. How is that even news? They are telling us that each year a certain amount of money is spent on something that needs to be done.... it would be like writing an article '£100 million spent on medicine to cure people'. The article offers no information on how less money could be spent, but it written in such a tone that says 'how disgraceful that we have to actually spend money on people that need it'

Already there are comments being made on the online version of the article, what a disgusting waste of money, blah blah blah. Do these people not actually hear themselves? How is it disgusting that we spend money helping vulnerable children get to and from school? The board will only provide a taxi for a child it feel needs to travel in one, they certainly don't just hand out free taxis for a laugh!

I understand, at a time when cuts are being made from lots of valuable services, people will look to see where more money can be saved. Perhaps there are ways in which cost effectiveness could be maximised, and there is nothing wrong with questioning that. I don't know enough about the way it is currently run to really comment on ways to improve the service. Maybe if more research had been done, the newspaper could have given us a bit more information about it, and maybe some possible solutions, rather than just complaining about having to spend tax payers money.

Have you read the article? What do you think? Am I right to feel a bit annoyed by this?

 

 

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15 comments:

  1. This makes me really sad, because it's articles like this that give idiot parties like UKIP a voice. They prey on the ignorant that are reacting to sensationalist headlines. It's why I don't read the 'news'. Deep breath lovely xx #SWM

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  2. I agree with you, it drives me mad how people jump to conclusions before doing their research. I think some people just like being outraged!
    x Char
    http://charlotteskitchenblog.blogspot.co.uk/
    #MMWBH

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  3. Ididn't see the article but I agree that from what you have said it is badly worded and what is so wrong with making sure children get to school for the education that is ensuring they have a bright future? #MMWBH

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  4. Not seen it but I HATE is when figures and stats are manipulated to convey a particular point of view ... awful . Great post! #sharewithme

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  5. The media is just political voice so it is deliberate to manipulate people into voting one way or another. One reason that I hate reading newspapers - they drive me mad x

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  6. I agree it is just manipulated to make us vote one way or another. Actually when you put out other figures it it completely reasonable. Grrrrr #mmwbh

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  7. Typical of a spurious headline being used to create an issue that really isn't there. Bad journalism.

    #MMWBH

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  8. I have not seen the article and as a expat I know awful I stay out of politics they are just so different here than back home. But sad that people are disgusted that we help children get to school for an education. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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  9. I hate how things are twisted to sensationalise it. Just trying to sell their papers sadly! x

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  10. You're totally right to be annoyed. You would think that people had the intelligence to look behind sensational headlines for the facts. It is hard to get a grant for this type of thing so I am positive every child who gets a taxi to school is deserving of it #sharewithme

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  11. Normally the majority of comments on online articles annoy me!

    Providing to transport for any child is helping them to get an education. For those with extra needs it's a way of helping them to socialise and be supported. For those without, it's helping them to secure their future and therefore contribute to society. They would rather kids stay at home and have no future?

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  12. I never saw the article, but it seems to me that it was money well spent, if it was spent on children who can't cope with getting on a bus, to school.

    The problem is that many people don't read articles properly and may not have realized that the 35 million was not the annual figure and it was being compared to the annual school budget. Seems a bit stupid, but then that's politics for you!...Just one big game using words and people.

    #MMWBH

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  13. That's disgusting. The newspaper should be ashamed of themselves for printing such headlining grabbing rubbish. Children with additional needs have the right to education and deserve to be transported to their school safely as and when needed. These children and families have enough challenges in their lives without the added pressures of transport and small minded people judging without the full facts. Completely agree with your post x
    #MMWBH

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  14. Makes my blood boil. I have worked with a lot of children that have had to have taxis to school. All of them would have preferred to live in circumstances that meant this was not necessary. A taxi to the pub is a luxury, a taxi to school is not!

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