Is county really saving money by axing chaperones?
MOVES to make more primary schoolchildren travel on unsupervised school buses looks set to continue despite claims that savings made by the axing of chaperones will not be as great as claimed.
Warwickshire County Council estimated that the scrapping of adult supervisors on buses ferrying children aged from around five to 11 will save it £700,000 in the renegotiations of bus contracts.
But Alistair Ross, who is one of many who has campaigned to keep the chaperones, disputes the amount of savings.
Mr Ross, of Hatton Park, whose daughter attends the Ferncumbe Primary School in Hatton, said: “I did a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the council and since the council approved the removal of the bus chaperones it has saved only £21,369, which is no where near the £700,000 stated in the consultation.
“This continues to back up parents’ concern that we were misled by the council to the true savings.”
Mr Ross said the answers to his FoI request indicated that the £21,369 saving was made by removing chaperones for nine schools and three contracts retendered.
He said it showed that 11 schools had kept their chaperones and 28 had yet to be assessed as whether they would keep theirs.
“There’s no way the council will make £700,000 savings based on the FoI information supplied to me,” he said.
“When the consultation started it did not say it was for taxi transport, only buses. But now the council says the savings include taxis.
“The council hope we are going to forget about this and go away, but we’re not.”
The county council disputed claims that money saved would be small and said further savings will be made as more contracts are retendered.
A council spokeswoman said: “To date only a very small number of the services originally identified have had passenger assistants removed.
“Further savings will be realised as more services are reviewed and contracts with transport providers are retendered.”
And she said the programme of assessing school bus routes with a view to scrapping chaperones will carry on, adding: “We are continuing with the decision to remove passenger assistants where it is considered appropriate.
“Colleagues in Transport Operations are assessing routes and pick-up/drop-off points on an ongoing basis. We will shortly be writing to the schools and parents affected inviting comments prior to any further assistants being removed.”
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