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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Bus safety drive after tragedy
Stuart Cunningham-Jones
Stuart Cunningham-Jones died in a crash in 2002
Tough measures to protect children travelling to and from school on buses have been unveiled, two years after a 12-year-old boy died in a crash .

Stuart Cunningham-Jones was killed after a bus came off the road and hit a tree in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Now the local authority has unveiled a plan to use anti-social behaviour and banning orders to protect pupils. But they will apply only to buses specially contracted on school runs by Vale of Glamorgan council.

The council is not able to impose its regulations on service buses, which also take fare-paying passengers, and which was the type of bus involved in Stuart's fatal journey.

The policy will involve a trial with CCTV on school buses on six routes.

What we are looking at is immediate bans in certain cases if the misbehaviour is of such a scale that it does put other people's lives in danger.
Rob Thomas, Vale of Glamorgan council

Pupils will no longer be allowed to stand on school buses and children will not be allowed to sit three to a double seat.

Rob Thomas, the Vale's head of planning and transportation, said misbehaving pupils could be banned from buses.

"In effect, it will take less than three strikes - it depends exactly on the nature of the incident," he said.

"For example, if you are throwing material on the buses to distract the driver, that could cause an accident in its own right.

"What we are looking at is immediate bans in certain cases if the misbehaviour is of such a scale that it does put other people's lives in danger.

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

"What we have done is taken the results of the inquest, progressed them and we have a full range of policies we are trying to adopt."

The measures will be introduced on an interim basis from September to allow for further consultation with schools and other agencies.

The cabinet also resolved to write to the Welsh Assembly Government, the Welsh Local Government Association, local MPs and other local authorities calling for further discussion on school transport safety.

Parental input

Following the death of Stuart Cunningham-Jones, his family set up "Stuart's Campaign for Safer School Buses".

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

Campaign chairman Chris Howard said the council's latest policies would only work if parents, headteachers, bus companies and the council all worked together.

He said that, if the proposals were adopted, parents should start looking out for whether three pupils were having to sit on seats designed for two, or if they were being made to stand.

"They should report them through as soon as they see that," he said.

"Then the council will have to do something about it."




SEE ALSO:
Resign call over bus safety
22 Apr 04  |  Wales



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