Mum being ‘held to ransom’ by Council

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fA Newtonhill mother has called for free school transport for all secondary pupils in the village, after claiming that she is “being held to ransom” by the local authority.

Sally Waite’s two older children, Harry and Tom, currently attend Portlethen Academy, with their younger sister Daisy due to join them next year.

Mrs Waite said: “According to the Government guidelines for school transport “Authorities have a common law duty of care for the safety of pupils under their charge.” Parents have a right to expect suitable arrangements that a safe school transport system will be made by education authorities, taking account of local circumstances.”

Currently, part of Newtonhill does not pay for school transport because it is more than the three-mile distance set by the government guidelines. The majority of houses within Newtonhill do pay for school transport, being just within the three-mile limit.

But Sally says that, since the walking route to the academy from Newtonhill is not safe, the children there should be entitled to free transport.

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesperson said: “The council’s policy on home to school transport is slightly more generous than that dictated by statute.

“All secondary pupils residing more than three miles from and attending their zoned school are entitled to free home to school transport. As with all distance-based criteria, some families will reside close to the cut-off distance and this is the case in Newtonhill. The council measures the distance down to the nearest metre and therefore neighbours will and will not qualify. To make exceptions would be inequitable as there will be many other families across Aberdeenshire that reside similar distances from their zoned school. The council’s policy on safe transport is similar to other Scottish local authorities where free transport is provided if there is no safe alternative to walking.

“Half price discounted privilege tickets are also available to those on low incomes where the pupil is entitled to free school meals.”