'Penny-pinching' putting children at risk claim parents

16/02 Updated: 17/02 15:11

Buy photos » Hanna Gomm and other campaigners are angry at the axing of bus assistants. 07.012.014.rug.jm1 (www.buyphotos247.com)

ANGRY parents have accused council chiefs of penny-pinching and putting young children travelling unattended on school buses at risk.

It comes after last year’s decision by Warwickshire County Council to remove paid assistants from primary school buses in a bid to meet huge savings targets in the current economic climate.

In September chaperones were removed from buses for primaries in Wolvey and Long Lawford, as well as Cubbington, in Leamington, and Newton Regis, near Nuneaton.

And seven more chaperones will be axed across Warwickshire once school resumes after this week’s half-term break.

The decision has left many parents angry after figures revealed the county council was saving just £30 a day for the reduction in Wolvey and £20 a day in Cubbington - working out to a combined annual saving of £9,500 for the two schools.

One Wolvey parent, Hanna Gomm, said a five-year-old child she knew was dropped off at the wrong stop in Wolvey in November, causing him and his family a great deal of distress.

She put it down to the absence of an attendant to make sure youngsters were supervised getting on and leaving the bus.

Ms Gomm, a former Wolvey Primary School pupil herself, said: "The council’s only response is to acknowledge that since the driver now knows which bus stop the child should get off at, this will not happen again.

"However the same driver cannot be guaranteed and this will not prevent the same incident from happening to another child in the future.

"Warwickshire County Council seem to have made a decision based purely on financial reasons and not looked into the practicalities of the duties the passenger assistant took to ensure safe transport of pupils to and from school.

"It is unacceptable that on primary school buses there is not another adult to supervise."

The bus chaperones were hired to manage the behaviour of children travelling and make sure all pupils were accounted for.

At the time the decision to remove them was made, a spokesman for Warwickshire County Council said financial pressures meant it was no longer able to provide the same level of service.

The council has however decided to retain them on buses for schools in Princethorpe, Southam, Stratford and Henley in Arden.

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