Plea over school bus

Jennifer, Keiran  and Megan Abbot of Sprouston who live just outside the catchment for free bus travel to Kelso High School by point one of a mile.
Jennifer, Keiran and Megan Abbot of Sprouston who live just outside the catchment for free bus travel to Kelso High School by point one of a mile.

A Kelso councillor wants to see a more flexible policy on free school transport after a Sprouston family complained about the current system.

Councillor Simon Mountford has taken up the case of the Abbott family, which is faced with paying a total of £122 per term for their two teenage children to use the school bus to Kelso High School.

“The problem arises from the fact that Sprouston lies astride the three-mile limit within which children are deemed to be capable of walking to school,” Councillor Mountford told The Southern this week.

“This particular family lives just within the three miles, but they have no reasonable alternative to using the school bus, as the road between Sprouston and Kelso is extremely dangerous.

“There is no footpath until you get to Kelso and vehicles travel very fast along the road. I believe it is unreasonable to charge hard-working families several hundred pounds a year for a service when they have no realistic alternative to using that service.

“The council should reconsider its policy to make it more flexible in circumstances such as these.”

Jennifer and John Abbott and their children, Megan, 13, and Kieran, 16, live in Sprouston’s Deanfield, with their home being measured at 2.9 miles from the school.

And as the couple start work at 7am and 8am, they cannot accompany their youngsters to school or drive them there, so the bus is the only alternative.

Mrs Abbott appealed to the local authority on safety grounds in regard to the road and the speed of traffic using it, but this was rejected by council officials.

“It’s definitely not a safe road for youngsters and to have the distance limit slicing right through the middle of a village so that some qualify for free transport, while their neighbours don’t, seems so unfair and, to be honest, crazy.”

Asked if the issue about school transport would be divisive among other families in the village, Mrs Abbott said that did not seem to be the case.

“I think everybody in the village is supporting us and our case,” she said.

Asked to comment on the Abbotts’ situation and their claims about the road the children would have to walk being particularly dangerous, a spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council told The Southern this week that the route had been assessed from a safety point of view and was deemed safe for walking.

“As an alternative, there are spaces on the school contact bus and the family could opt to pay for privilege lifts at £1 per child per day,” added the spokesperson.