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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
Bus crash father's safety demands
Stuart Cunningham-Jones
A picture of Stuart was shown to AMs by his father

The father of a schoolboy killed in a bus crash says immediate action is needed to prevent further tragedies.

David Cunningham-Jones, whose son Stuart died going home from school in the Vale of Glamorgan, told AMs: "Legislation has got to look at today's problems, not tomorrow's".

An inquest jury decided the accident happened because of interference with the steering wheel.

Mr Cunningham-Jones showed AMs Stuart's photo and asked: "What price for a child's safety?"

He also showed the assembly's education and lifelong learning committee a picture of the crash scene and added: "It should be the safest journey, shouldn't it?"

Everybody's talking about it but nobody is actually making it happen. That's why we've decided to so something
Trevor Roberts, Newport Transport

The tragedy has focused attention on how safety can be improved on buses carrying children, and AMs in Cardiff Bay were given the chance to look around an American-style 130,000 yellow bus being tested in Newport.

Mr Cunningham-Jones and his wife Joanna and other parents of children at Cowbridge Comprehensive set up "Stuart's Campaign for Safer School Buses" after the accident, when the bus careered off the road and hit a tree in Ystradowen.

Stuart, who was sitting at the front on the top deck, died at the scene and 30 other children were injured.

The inquest in January heard that pupils were "messing round" on the bus.

Bus crash at Ystradowen
More than 30 children were injured in the crash near Ystradowen

Mr Cunningham-Jones told AMs that Stuart's Campaign wanted many changes to the operation of school buses.

These included the stipulation that all were single-deckers, with factory-installed seat belts for every passenger, the abolition of the "three-for-two" rule which allowed three children in seats designed for two adults, and adult supervision on every vehicle other than the driver.

He said the jury at the inquest in Cardiff had been "adamant that the responsibility of the driver was solely to drive the bus".

"We had a jury that were really unfamiliar with the issues and yet their reactions came out with the right things in our view.

'Consistency needed'

"Action really does need to start soon, if not now, to avoid any further accidents".

Mr Cunningham-Jones said consistency was needed across Wales and it needed to come from the assembly. Three of the 22 local education authorities still used the "three-for-two" rule, while the rest had scrapped it.

He also said the Transport Bill put forward by the UK government did not go far enough. "It's doing too little, too late," he said.

Trevor Roberts of Newport Transport - a company owned by Newport Council - said it had had an excellent response so far from the schools where it had tried its yellow bus over the past three weeks.

The vehicles have 70 seats - with each child having their own designated place - CCTV, and a dedicated driver with first aid training.

Mr Roberts said: "Is there a price you can put on a life? It's down to us to sort it.

"Everybody's talking about it but nobody is actually making it happen. That's why we've decided to so something."

Welsh Education Minister Jane Davidson said while the assembly government had no responsibility for school transport - which is down to schools, councils and the UK government - the assembly could offer guidance.




SEE ALSO:
Resign call over bus safety
22 Apr 04  |  Wales
School bus designed for safety
05 Apr 04  |  South East Wales


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