School buses issue still needs to be resolved

Marnie Crawford.
Marnie Crawford.

Midlothian Council has promised that pupils will get to school next week despite the fact that bus contracts are still to be confirmed.

A coach firm is taking the council to court after missing out on the final round of £6 million deals to bus pupils to school in a move that has held up the issuing of new contracts. Education chiefs insist buses will be laid on from the first day back on August 20.

The dispute dates back to May and has rumbled on all summer over the dishing out of seven-year contracts to 16 bus firms. Last week council bosses were issued with a legal challenge and wrote to bus firms the next day to inform them of their intention to run existing contracts until December. But transport company bosses are understood to be outraged at having to lay on vehicles and drivers on terms from five years ago that do not take inflation into account.

Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council chairman Marnie Crawford said: “On the one hand, Midlothian Council should be applauded for looking for value for money on contracts, but at the same time they need to get the buses sorted out. They need to give parents some certainty because obviously parents can’t just move timetables about. Most of them work and have other commitments, so can’t just set off on school runs at short notice.”

A Midlothian Council spokesman said:“Midlothian Council is working to solve the issue. However, we can assure parents that transport will be in place for those children entitled to it at the start of the new term and onwards.”