AN Elgin mum is calling for members of the general public to be stopped from using a school bus service.
Louise Beresford, who has three children – Ryan (17), Aimee (13) and Kian (11) – has raised concerns about the safety of school pupils on the Elgin Academy to Pinefield coach.
Ms Beresford has been closing her town centre business in the afternoon to pick up her youngest child Kian as he is now too frightened to use the school transport after a recent incident.
The service, which is contracted to Stagecoach by Moray Council, runs from Pinefield Crescent to Elgin Academy in the morning, and then returns just after 3.30pm.
Ms Beresford said there have been incidents reported of a man under the influence of alcohol on the bus and a woman shouting.
Ms Beresford said: "My children have been using the bus since they started at the Academy, so it has been years and we keep having the same problems.
"The way I see it is that if you have to vet drivers for school buses then why would you let members of the public on there who haven’t been vetted.
"It used to be just for schoolchildren, but every year different bus companies put their bids in for the contract for the route and every time this happens they change it, so one year it is just kids on the bus then the next it is ok for the public to go on.
"It keeps rearing it’s head and it’s not getting solved – it doesn’t make rhyme or reason."
Kian, who attends Seafield Primary, walks to meet his 13-year-old sister at Elgin Academy to catch the bus home.
She added: "One afternoon on the bus there was Kian and Aimee, and a woman sat next to them and turned around. My son is a bit hyperactive, so he was chatting away and being a little bit loud, but the woman started shouting at him to shut up and got right in his face.
"Now he won’t get on the bus and I have to go and get him which means I have to close my business in town because he is too scared to get on the bus, and my daughter is nervous about getting on it too.
"It makes it really difficult. I’m a single parent, I’m partially disabled and I’m trying to run a businesses so I can make enough money to bring my children up.
"My daughter put herself in harm’s way to protect her brother and she shouldn’t feel like she has to do that. I think it is only our service and the Kinloss service which allow members of the public on. All the other ones get a bus that just has kids on it so why can’t we?"
The Elgin Academy to Pinefield bus is under threat of being stopped altogether as part of Moray Council budget cut proposals.
Ms Beresford added: "They are changing the qualifying guidelines from two miles to three miles, so apparently it is totally acceptable for our children to walk three miles to and from school every day.
"It’s crazy, it really is."
A spokesman for Stagecoach said: "As this is a home-to-school contract the local authority, in this case Moray Council, specifies the terms of operation. We are not aware of any issues on board this school bus."
A Moray Council spokesman said: "The council’s understanding is that a complaint has been made to police who are investigating.
"As such we’re unable to provide any comment at this stage until their investigations are complete."