Parents have accused Aberdeenshire Council of “putting children’s lives in danger to save money” after officers rejected their appeals for an axed school bus service to be restored.
Parents living in Kingseat were told prior to schools returning that their children would be required to walk a 30-minute journey to Newmachar Primary School as the bus service had been scrapped.
The local authority cancelled it because the journey along a path between the community and the school was deemed safe, and the distance to walk was within two miles.
However, parents have argued that the path can be unsafe in certain areas where it comes into proximity with 60mph roads, waterways and electric fences.
Last month, the Garioch area committee asked council officers to compile a report on reinstating the Kingseat to Newmachar service after listening to parents’ concerns.
The officers have now insisted the path is safe, and have urged councillors against backing the return of the service.
In the report, officers provided assurances from the council’s qualified road safety professionals that the path does meet the standard of a safe route to school.
Concerns were also raised that, were the bus service to be revived, it could set a precedent for other schools in comparable situations to demand the same treatment.
Although a precise cost could not be supplied, officers feared the cost to the council “would not be insignificant” and it “would be difficult to justify not considering other requests on the same basis”.
Officers also highlighted worries that if councillors did move to return the service, it could lead to an “additional financial burden on the council of £216,000”.
Kingseat resident Jade Todd, the mother of Newmachar Primary pupil Gracie, started a petition that has attracted more than 320 signatures calling for the bus to be brought back.
She said: “I think this is unacceptable, given that we had the service for 10 years.
“The motive of the council I think is purely based around cost, and to put children’s lives at danger for saving money is not acceptable in my opinion.
“It’s a deterrent for anyone wanting to live in this area who have children who want to attend the school.”
If councillors at next week’s Garioch Area Committee meeting agree that the bus should be restored, the matter will be brought before the education committee in due course.