Fears raised over Essex County Council’s decision to remove bus passenger assistants

CONCERNS have been raised over Essex County Council’s plans to remove the requirement for passenger assistants on school buses.

As of April 6, all school buses with more than eight seats will no longer have an escort on board, a move that Clavering Primary School headteacher Rosalind Allsop has branded as “totally unacceptable”.

“We have children of all ages who use this transport ranging from four to 11 and some are on the bus for half an hour,” she said. “The youngest children have just started attending school full time and are too young to be unsupervised for this period.

“The driver’s role is to concentrate on driving, not look after the children or ensure their safety.”

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has also raised concerns, particularly as the council did not hold any form of consultation.

The CPT has asked the council to complete a risk assessment ahead of pushing ahead with the decision.

Operators who attended a meeting between the CPT and ECC last week stressed that passenger assistants provide an important safeguard for young and vulnerable passengers in tasks such as ensuring that seat belts are worn at all times and that pupils are collected by the correct people.