Bus mon­i­tor safety fears

Staff lose out in OLSP con­tract change

Lennox Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Lor­raine Weir

Chil­drens’ safety could be in jeop­ardy if a firm set to take over school runs fail to put mon­i­tors on all routes, say at­ten­dants who deal with bother on the buses.

Dum­bar­ton-based McColl’s Coaches has lost con­tracts run­ning to the new Our Lady and St Pa­trick’s High in Bellsmyre when it opens later this month.

Ayr­shire-based firm Mar­bill tabled the suc­cess­ful bid and will take on nine con­tracts but it is un­clear if they will em­ploy bus mon­i­tors on all of the ser­vices.

The at­ten­dants deal with any dis­or­der that breaks out on the buses, check bus passes and ad­dress any safety is­sues dur­ing jour­neys.

If Mar­bill run coaches on the lo­cal routes rather than dou­bledecker ve­hi­cles there is no con­trac­tual obli­ga­tion to have an at­ten­dant on the bus.

Sa­man­tha Hen­der­son, who has been a mon­i­tor with McColl’s for the last two years, said roles like hers are vi­tal.

She added: “The kids trust you and know that they can come to you if there’s a prob­lem.

“How is the driver go­ing to deal with all the kids on their own?”

Mar­bill told us this week that they are still in talks with McColl’s over the trans­fer of the con­tract but it is un­der­stood that the ma­jor­ity of at­ten­dants cur­rently in post lo­cally will not be of­fered em­ploy­ment with the firm.

When asked if mon­i­tors would be ditched from the buses once Mar­bill takes on the routes, a spokes­woman said: “That’s not the case at present. We are still in talks with McColl’s.”

Sa­man­tha, who said she has not been of­fered a job with Mar­bill, stressed how im­por­tant the role of bus mon­i­tors is, par­tic­u­larly fol­low­ing the bus crash in Au­gust which left pupils hav­ing to clam­ber to safety.

More than 20 pupils re­ceived hos­pi­tal treat­ment fol­low­ing the crash.

She said: “If it wasn’t for the mon­i­tor a lot of the kids wouldn’t have got back on the buses for days af­ter it.

“The bus driver and the mon­i­tor were ab­so­lutely su­perb that day.

“The mon­i­tor her­self ended up with bro­ken ribs but the kids knew they were safe when they saw the same driver and the same mon­i­tor on the bus af­ter­wards.

“Hav­ing a mon­i­tor on any bus means the driver’s con­cen­tra­tion can be 100 per­cent on the road, which it has to be.”

McColl’s cur­rently has bus mon­i­tors on ev­ery school bus route it runs and has done so for over 40 years.

West Dun­bar­ton­shire Coun­cil said bus at­ten­dants will con­tinue to be in place on dou­ble deck­ers af­ter the con­tracts switch to Mar­bill.

A spokes­woman added: “In ad­di­tion we have stip­u­lated that seat belts must be pro­vided on all ve­hi­cles to fur­ther en­hance the safety of pupils on our school trans­port.”

Bus stopped McColls lost the OLSP con­tract

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