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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 May 2006, 05:38 GMT 06:38 UK
Stricter school bus controls call
Jasmine Allen
Jasmine Allen, 12, died in hospital following the crash
There are calls for stricter monitoring of school bus operators after a driver was cleared of causing the death of a schoolgirl by driving dangerously.

Jasmine Allen, 12, from Hafodyrynys, south Wales died when the minibus she was travelling to school in crashed into a car and overturned in May 2005.

A jury found Christopher Cushing, 38, of Bargoed, guilty of careless driving at Cardiff Crown Court on Wednesday.

It later emerged he had been unlicensed and uninsured to drive the minibus.

The Hafodyrynys community is said to be "dumbfounded" at the verdict.

Cushing was banned from driving for six months and fined 250.

Andrew Lewis, chairman of Hafodyrynys community association, said the supervision of bus contractors had to be tightened.

Speaking after the trial, he told BBC Wales: "I'm dumbfound that taking a child's life means a six months' ban and 250.

"How cheap is a child's life? Is it that cheap?

Campaign

"It's unbelievable that he should be driving a bus. The local authority should be monitoring the situation much more closely than they are already.

"It's no good just giving out a contract and putting the onus on the contractor.

Christopher Cushing
Cushing was not insured to drive the minibus

"They should be making sure that the drivers of all the buses taking our kids to school should be properly monitored, should be properly identified."

David Cunningham-Jones' son Stuart, 12, died three-and-a-half years ago when his double-decker school bus crashed near his home in Ystradowen, in the Vale of Glamorgan.

He and his wife have campaigned for tighter security on school transport ever since.

He said in a BBC interview: "We have managed to force a lot of organisations to look into school bus transport and do a review and come up with recommendations.

"We're now looking for the National Assembly to take action on the recommendations and put them into guidance for the local authorities to use.

"We need clarity first and foremost for everybody responsible for the school trips. The problem with the trips at the moment is there are two many grey areas - we need it in black and white.

"The other thing is we can't cherry pick the recommendations. We have to act on all the recommendations that have been made."

John Pockett from the Confederation of Passenger Transport in Wales has also called for "clarity" of responsibility.

"I think this is something that everybody involved in school transport has called for ever since and before the sad accident in Cowbridge," Mr Pockett said.

"The review the assembly set up showed there's a plethora - an absolute complexity - of different legislation.

"Where the responsibilities lie is not clear and David Cunningham-Jones' call for clarity is something that the industry, groups and local authorities have been calling for a long time."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear a bereaved father who has campaigned for bus safety



SEE ALSO:
Fatal crash driver 'not speeding'
02 May 06 |  South East Wales
Fatal bus driver 'told to slow'
27 Apr 06 |  South East Wales
Fatal crash driver 'messed about'
26 Apr 06 |  South East Wales


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