School bus driver struck off af­ter let­ting pupils ride in lug­gage bay

Bath Chronicle - - NEWS - Amanda Cameron Senior reporter @Aman­das­cameron | 01225 322204 amanda.cameron@reach­plc.com

A school bus driver has been banned from car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers af­ter let­ting seven pupils ride in the lug­gage bay on their way home. Richard Short had been on his reg­u­lar morn­ing run be­tween Keyn­sham and Odd Down on June 12 and when he al­lowed a child to climb into the lug­gage com­part­ment. He then drove the bus for around a minute and a half like this. In the af­ter­noon he then let seven pupils climb into the same com­part­ment and drove for three min­utes in this way. The 49-year-old from Yate told a dis­ci­plinary panel the St Gre­gory’s Catholic Col­lege pupils were “very de­mand­ing” and he gave in to their de­mands af­ter a “mo­ment of madness”. He said he had been un­der per­sonal stress at the time and had caved in when sworn and shouted at by the ‘ring­leader.’ The school said it was “shocked and ap­palled” at the in­ci­dent. A state­ment on be­half of the head­mistress, Ann Cu­sack said the school took the in­ci­dent “very se­ri­ously” and acted swiftly to in­ves­ti­gate it and re­port it to the au­thor­i­ties. It told the par­ents of the stu­dents in­volved what it was do­ing and that it rou­tinely briefs them and pupils on the im­por­tance of safety trav­el­ling to and from school. “We have been made aware of me­dia in­ter­est in a se­ri­ous in­ci­dent that hap­pened last term in­volv­ing St Gre­gory’s school stu­dents whilst on a school bus ser­vice op­er­ated by South Glouces­ter­shire Bus and Coach Limited. “At the time we were shocked and ap­palled by the in­ci­dent. “The mat­ter was im­me­di­ately in­ves­ti­gated by the school, along with the bus com­pany, and re­ported to the po­lice, lo­cal au­thor­ity and our dio­cese to en­sure swift ac­tion was taken to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion. “This ac­tion in­cluded the im­me­di­ate sus­pen­sion of the driver by the bus com­pany. “The school con­tacted all par­ents and car­ers of the stu­dents in­volved to re­as­sure them that this in­ci­dent was be­ing taken very se­ri­ously and that there was an ab­so­lute fo­cus on their chil­dren’s safety. “The out­come of the hear­ing for the driver in re­vok­ing his pas­sen­ger car­ry­ing li­cence for 10 years sends out a strong mes­sage that chil­dren’s safety must never be com­pro­mised and that ir­re­spon­si­ble be­hav­iour is to­tally un­ac­cept­able. “We rou­tinely brief stu­dents in assem­blies, to­gether with par­ents and car­ers through our news­let­ter, on the im­por­tance of safety whilst trav­el­ling to and from school. St Gre­gory’s holds the safe­guard­ing and care of stu­dents at the high­est level of im­por­tance at all times.” The dis­ci­plinary hear­ing was told Mr Short, an ex­pe­ri­enced driver, had asked for time off to deal with his per­sonal mat­ter but South Glouces­ter­shire Bus and Coach Limited had re­fused due to a short­age of driv­ers. The firm ad­mit­ted it had been aware of Mr Short’s prob­lems. In his re­port, com­mis­sioner Kevin Rooney wrote: “Mr Short told me that he knew he had been stupid. He wasn’t a bad per­son. “He had asked for time off. He had asked to be taken off that route. His em­ployer and he him­self had spo­ken to the school about the pupils’ be­hav­iour. “He had to stop the coach sev­eral times to try to re­gain con­trol. The chil­dren thought it was all a joke.” Mr Rooney said de­spite Mr Short’s rea­sons, he had en­dan­gered the safety of the chil­dren tak­ing the bus. “Par­ents en­trust the safety of their chil­dren to the bus and coach driv­ers who take them to and from school. Driv­ing a bus or coach is a pro­fes­sional oc­cu­pa­tion and re­quires much more than just be­ing the steers­man,” he said. “Chil­dren should wear seat­belts and be seated in prop­erly con­structed seats when trav­el­ling, even for rel­a­tively short pe­ri­ods. “I do not un­der­es­ti­mate how dif­fi­cult that can be at times for driv­ers but there is al­ways an op­tion sim­ply to stop. “Chil­dren have to be kept un­der con­trol. “The school and par­ents have very im­por­tant roles in that but it is only the driver who can take the di­rect ac­tion at the time when chil­dren are getting out of hand – as at least a few very clearly were on that jour­ney.” Mr Short was banned from driv­ing buses for 10 years.

Chil­dren have to be kept un­der con­trol. The school and par­ents have very im­por­tant roles in that but it is only the driver who can take ac­tion at the time when chil­dren are getting out of hand Com­mis­sioner Kevin Rooney in his re­port fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent in which pupils from St Gre­gory’s climbed into the lug­gage com­part­ment af­ter de­mand­ing the driver let them

A typ­i­cal lug­gage com­part­ment on a coach

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