Protest over school transport changes

Parents concerned over the loss of school transport protest outside Ellon Primary.
Parents concerned over the loss of school transport protest outside Ellon Primary.

Parents in Ellon have mounted a major campaign in a bid to stop changes to bus transport for two primary schools.

A petition calling on Aberdeenshire Council to maintain subsidised travel to Ellon and Auchterellon primaries has been supported by hundreds of people.

Unfortunately, no satisfactory outcome was reached at Friday’s meeting

Kathleen Lawson Petition Organiser

The partially-funded service to the two schools is to cease due to increased costs and parents are warning of a road safety risk because of the lack of a safe crossing point.

Campaigners met council officials last Friday to discuss the changes and they also raised the issue in questions to Tuesday’s meeting of Formartine Area Committee.

Councillors called for a report to be prepared for the vacation committee meeting in the next few weeks.

The row also comes amid concern about safety among parents of children who are facing a walk across town to reach the new community campus, which opens 
next month.

Parants of children attending Ellon and Auchterellon schools have criticised the council for giving them little notice over the change in transport arrangements.

The local authority say costs for the service have risen but the campaigners have disputed the figures on which they are based.

They are also angry after it was confirmed no risk assessment had been carried out over routes to the school.

Petition organiser Kathleen Lawson said: “Unfortunately, no satisfactory outcome was reached at Friday’s meeting.

“It was extremely disappointing to learn that the council officers rejected the alternative solutions which were made by parent representatives for the continuation of a part-subsidised school bus service.”

The parents have called on officials to look at installing a pedestrian crossing at the Knockothie/Golf Road area.

Mum-of-two Michele Harper, a childminder, said that as the situation stands, she would be unable to work.

She added: “Without this bus I’m not going to able to childmind. I rely on the bus to get my daughter to school and I don’t drive.”

Local councillors have met with officials and asked for a detailed report about the situation.

Councillor Rob Merson said: “Following the concerns which have been expressed by a number of parents, the local councillors met with officers last week to discuss the matter and requested a full report on the current proposals, which has just been finalised.

“The councillors also requested that a public meeting be arranged to clarify the situation for parents and to address any outstanding concerns.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s head of transportation Ewan Wallace said: “The current service that is utilised by pupils at Ellon and Auchterellon primary schools falls below the two mile threshold for statutory provision.

“Although pupils pay a small fare the service does require a significant subsidy from within council budgets and therefore the decision was taken to no longer provide that support.”

He added: “We do appreciate that any changes to pupil transport services do have an impact on the school community and have advised that the services will be withdrawn as of the end of the current school year.

“The issues of safety and provision of a pedestrian crossing on Golf Road will also continue to be considered in view of concerns expressed locally and we are in discussion around 
different options.”*