Hundreds back the campaign to bring back bus assistants

CAMPAIGNERS have again raised concerns about safety issues surrounding the removal of transport assistants from school bus services following responses to freedom of information requests.

Members of the Save our School Bus Passenger Transport Assistants group say the bus chaperones are essential andthat Warwickshire County Council has not made the savings it said it would to justify axing the services for certain schools.

In response to the information members received after putting in FOI requests, campaigners Alistair Ross and Caroline Adams who are parents of pupils at Ferncumbe Primary School in Hatton, said: “The responses show the savings figure of £700,000 is a gross over-estimation. In 18 months only nine schools have had transport assistants removed and this has achieved savings of £21,000. An internal review of a complaint within WCC has resulted in an admission that it was ‘an ambitious target’.

A petition with more than 500 signatures, which lists the campaign groups findings and concerns, has been set up on the council’s website.

The petition can be viewed on the web page.

The aim is to urge councillors to reverse their decision for the schools where bus services have already had chaperones removed.

A spokesman for the county council has said: “The total savings from the removal of assistants will be known once all services have been considered and where appropriate contracts have been retendered.

“There is no statutory duty to provide passenger assistants on home to school transport. Many local authorities make no such provision nor have they ever done so. Warwickshire has a clear set of criteria that are used in order to decide whether or not to provide an assistant with decisions reviewed annually taking into account all information available. Throughout this process we are listening to the views and concerns of the community and would like to offer reassurance that every decision is carefully considered with regard to pupil health and safety.

“We are continuing our review of passenger transport assistants and will continue to make decisions following the consideration of all relevant information. Parents and schools will of course be kept informed.”