Return of school bus for Johnshaven pupils

An Aberdeenshire councillor has spoken of his pride at how a Mearns community became ‘politicised’ by a school transport concern and successfully campaigned for a return of a local school bus.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 11:05 am
Councillor Leigh Wilson is comforted to know he's made a difference.

Pupils in Johnshaven who were travelling to Mackie Academy had to share the local service bus with members of the public. But after a spate of breakdowns and incidents with non-school passengers, the coastal community involved their local councillor and gathered together to campaign for a school bus.

The campaign’s success saw the return of a dedicated school bus and Jpupils no longer having to make their way to school with the wider public.

Alba councillor Leigh Wilson reflected on the importance of the public campaign, stating: “What was remarkable here was a community being completely politicised because of this issue - including the young people themselves – with a raft of teenagers joining the Johnshaven and Benholm Community Council to ensure their voice was heard and to use it as an effective campaigning platform. It was a real community mobilisation and it shows what can happen when groups get together and organise.”

The issue came to a head at the end of 2018 after a serious incident involving one of the pupils. Councillor Wilson was made aware of the issue and launched a campaign to reinstate a dedicated school bus, reaching out to the pupils and taking their concerns to the local authority. Parents were also active in the campaign and a petition was established which achieved more than150 signatures and a mailing list was set up to coordinate activities.

Councillor Wilson said: “The most important responsibility the council has is the safety of children and that, to be quite honest, wasn’t happening in Johnshaven. Asking school children to share a bus with the general public always poses a risk. What’s more, in addition to the very real safety concerns, there were recurring issues with children having to hang about outside school to fit in with the service timetable.

“As a councillor it can feel like you’re constantly fighting fires so it is deeply satisfying. On this issue, therefore, I’m comforted that I, along with the many concerned parents who campaigned alongside me, made a real difference.”