In recent years, local services in communities across Scotland have been placed at risk like never before.

Unfortunately, this is just as true in Clackmannanshire as it has been anywhere else.

For over 30 years, the Forth Valley based Dial-A-Journey service had been providing door-to-door transport for vulnerable or elderly service users across Clackmannanshire.

Far from just providing transportation to those who needed it, Dial-A-Journey’s drivers would go to service users’ doors and help them to their bus, before making sure they were safely inside their destination at the other end.

For those who depended on this service, Dial-A-Journey wasn’t just a convenience, it was a lifeline which enabled them to live more normal lives and stopped them becoming isolated by allowing them to attend hospital appointments, and to visit loved ones.

But last year, Clackmannanshire Council announced they were reviewing the services’ funding, as part of wider reforms to bus services across the county.

As a result, vulnerable service users are no longer offered a complete door-to-door service, with this being replaced with a more basic ‘kerb to kerb’ service – in line with regular public transport.

In addition, users of Dial-A-Journey are now largely confined to travelling within Clackmannanshire and will have to connect to other public transport if they wish to travel further.

But normal public transport is far from ideal for those who depend on Dial-A-Journey, with around 60 per cent of its service users requiring a wheelchair or other mobility aid, and most local buses having capacity for just one wheelchair.

It is to be welcomed that a partial U-turn on this restriction has been announced, following confirmation that the Dial-A-Journey service is still providing transport to medical appointments outside of Clackmannanshire – at sites including Forth Valley Royal Hospital, for example.

But regardless of this, as it stands the service is now a shadow of its former self. Even in its current form, the future of the service is unclear, with the current contract due to expire in August.

For decades, the strength of Dial-A-Journey came from its ability to provide freedom and flexibility to service users who are unable to use regular public transport, as well as from the dedication of its hard-working staff. But with the unique features of the service now curtailed, many vulnerable and elderly service users are at risk of becoming isolated.

Of course, following years of Scottish Government cuts, council budgets are currently more stretched than ever, and balancing budgets without cutting services has never been more difficult.

However, it is clear that the loss of services such as Dial-A-Journey will place too big a toll on those across Clackmannanshire who depend on them.

I completely understand the pressures that Clackmannanshire Council are under, but they also have to consider the impact on vulnerable residents becoming isolated and marginalised as a result.