Adult escorts axed from buses

ADULT chaperones employed on a rural Essex school bus service to help prevent bullying and bad behaviour will not be returning after they were scrapped earlier this year.

ADULT chaperones employed on a rural Essex school bus service to help prevent bullying and bad behaviour will not be returning after they were scrapped earlier this year.

Bus escorts have been used on the routes operated by Hedingham Omnibuses that collect youngsters from the rural parishes surrounding Tendring Technology College's Thorpe Campus.

Essex County Council decided in the summer that new contracts with the firm would see escorts replaced with CCTV cameras, with three of the school's nine routes already using the equipment.

When the new contracts for the remaining routes are renewed they too will use CCTV rather than the escorts, which are currently being paid for by Hedingham Omnibuses.


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Frinton and Walton Mayor Terry Allen said he could not understand why the escort service had been scrapped, and called on the county council to reconsider.

In a letter to Lord Hanningfield, council leader, Mr Allen said: “In withdrawing bus escorts the education authority has made a mistake.

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“The town council and the parishes know that an escort on the buses will maintain order and prevent bullying. A camera will not do that.

“I ask the education authority to think again and restore the bus escorts to Thorpe.”

Mr Allen said the town council had been contributing £6,000 to the scheme for the past six or seven years and the offer to continue that and work in partnership with the county council and the school remained on the table.

Robert MacGregor, managing director of Hedingham Omnibuses, said he supported the use of CCTV cameras and the firm would do its best to ensure the safety of the children on the buses at all times.

A county council spokesman said supervision on private buses was not a matter for Essex County Council but the individual bus company, but CCTV was its preferred way of monitoring behaviour.

He said: “We look where possible to assist these companies with the installation of CCTV, our preferred method of improving student behaviour which has been trialled successfully elsewhere in Essex leading to significant improvements in student behaviour and successful monitoring of incidents.

“With many cameras on each bus, monitored by specially trained and CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checked staff, every seat can be viewed as well as approaches to the bus.

“This significantly improves the safety and behaviour of children on both public and private bus services.”

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