News / An ‘unacceptable’ journey

EIGHT Shetland Islands Council members along with officials and education committee members endured a three hour bus journey on Monday night to experience what pupils as young as 11 will go through if they close Aith junior high school.

Parents on Shetland’s west side organised the bus trip to press home what they regarded as an unacceptably long journey.

The organisers said they were disappointed that education and families committee chair Vaila Wishart and SIC leader Gary Robinson could not attend the event.

Councillors who did board the bus were Allan Wishart, Theo Smith, Frank Robertson, Billy Fox, Gary Cleaver, Peter Campbell, George Smith and Davie Sandison.

Religious representatives on the education committee Radina MacKay and Tom McIntyre were also there, along with Helen Budge and Shona Thompson from children’s services and Michael Craigie from transport.

The political passengers were given the full school bus experience from Anderson High School out to the west side.


They were given a running commentary as they travelled about the safety concerns along the way, including accident blackspots, along with a collection of statements from pupils past and present.

After disembarking at Bixter to see where feeder buses collect west side children, they continued through Effirth, Sand, Reawick and Skeld to reach Westerskeld, a journey of one hour and 35 minutes.

Interviewed afterwards on BBC Radio Shetland, environment and transport committee chair Allan Wishart said he was struck by the level of concern about transport amongst parents.

However he also stressed the huge financial challenge facing the council. “It’s been quite informative, but now is not the time to make up our minds about this and we still have to figure out how the council is going to save over £30 million a year,” he said.

Children’s services director Helen Budge said the council had to look at how to minimise the length of bus journey children must take to school, but stressed that such issues would be thoroughly examined during the consultation process.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


Others on board commented that such a bus journey was far too long for any young child.

West side parent Leanne Johnson who helped organise the trip said she thought the exercise had helped to enlighten decision makers.

“At the end of the day it is essential that bairns get the best education, but it is unacceptable for them to endure a three hour bus trip, every day, five days a week for up to six years,” she said.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.