Bus chaperones back on board following council u-turn

By IH Monday 04 February 2013 Updated: 07/02 10:43

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Buy photos » Hanna Gomm and other Rugby campaigners backed a successful petition opposing the axing of bus assistants. 07.012.014.rug.jm1 (www.buyphotos247.com)

CHAPERONES are being reinstated on school buses to keep youngsters safe following a u-turn by council chiefs.

There was an outcry from parents last year when Warwickshire County Council took the decision to scrap paid Passenger Transport Assistants on primary school buses claiming it would save them up to £700,000 - half of what they hoped to save from the county's school transport budget.

The Observer exclusively broke the news as angry parents who accused the council of putting the safety of their children at risk by axing PTAs, who look after pupils aged as young as four, making sure they get to and from school safely.

The Tory-led administration today revealed they would be reinstating PTAs on all buses to primary schools across the county.

PTAs were scheduled to be removed from buses, coaches and taxis taking pupils to primary schools as part of a £1.4 million savings programme for school transport.

But the council - admitting it had listened to concerns expressed by parents, schools and governors in making the decision - now says savings have been made elsewhere through measures such as ensuring they secure the most competitively priced contracts via an online bidding system.

Coun Heather Timms, spokeswoman for children, young people and families, said: “The council has been able to meet the £1.4million it identified as a necessary saving from the school transport programme through other measures, so we are willing to acknowledge the concerns of parents and schools and reverse this decision.”

Parents at Ferncumbe School at Hatton, Warwick, which had already lost its PTAs, launched a petition to fight the move. It received thousands of signatures and was backed by parents in Rugby.

A campaign spokeswoman said: "Just a day after our petition closed with 6,871 names, Warwickshire County Council have confirmed that they are reinstating all PTAs. This is an amazing result and shows that our petition has worked.

"The council has put their own spin on it, claiming to have found the savings from another source, but we believe they have acted now, rather than face a humiliating defeat at the planned debate on February 19."

No date has yet been given for when PTAs will be reinstated on routes where they have already been removed.

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