Highlands & Islands

Concerns raised over new school bus rules in Western Isles

Road in the north of Barra
Image caption Councillor Manford is concerned that pupils may not be safe walking to school

A council has been asked to suspend new rules on school transport in the Western Isles.

The change to the distance limits would disqualify some pupils from free travel, as they would be considered as living close enough to school.

Barra Councillor Donald Manford said the new rules could make travel unsafe for some children.

The council leader said the measure was agreed by councillors 18 months ago as part of a budget setting exercise.

Mr Manford said: "If they aren't able to use different forms of transport then of course walking is the only other method.

"Where there are no safe footpaths for children to walk to and from school it is wholly unreasonable for them to be expected to walk on single-track roads and even dual-track roads."

But the leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), Angus Campbell, claimed he was surprised that Mr Manford and other SNP councillors were raising the issue now, 18 months after he said the decision was made.

Mr Campbell said: "I'm quite happy to sit down and look at this in terms of if there's any effects that we haven't thought of but we have to remember that Donald himself was chair of transportation at that time and has got no objections on the table then."

He said the changes would not happen until the end of August.

"Any member who wants to forward alternatives is always free to do that as long as they identify how we are going to finance them," he added.

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