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Brighton & Hove City Council update on Home to School Transport

This is the latest update from Brighton & Hove City Council on Home to School Transport:

“Dear families,

Many parents and carers will be aware that a problem last Thursday 16 January caused disruption to the journeys of eight children to school the following morning. We regret disruption caused very much and have apologised to the families concerned. We are working with our taxi companies to ensure this situation does not happen again.

This was not the same issue that caused disruption to the home to school transport service at the beginning of the autumn term of 2019. Last week, we acted on reports of a licencing issue that had potential safety implications. We were informed that one of our taxi companies may have used a driver from another firm to cover a route to and from school. The home to school transport contract, that all operators are bound by, specifically forbids operators from doing this. We insist that we are aware at all times of which firms, which drivers and which vehicles are transporting our children. This is an important way of ensuring our children are safe on their journeys.

As we always do, we tried to resolve the issue with the company immediately so that journeys were not disrupted. On this occasion, despite out best efforts, we could not fully resolve matters with the firm in a timescale we felt to be satisfactory. We temporarily suspended the operator and regrettably we had to ask parents to make alternative arrangements at short notice for the next morning. The matter was resolved in time for the afternoon run.

To ensure this does not happen again, we have reminded all operators of their agreement with us not to sub-contract either drivers or vehicles without first gaining the consent of the council. In addition, we are carrying out spot checks on vehicles this week to ensure all the rules are being followed in relation to children’s health and safety. We will carry out more spot checks over the coming months. We will do all we can to avoid disruption to families and to children’s education, but we hope parents will understand that when an allegation is made that a licensing requirement is not being met, we must take strong action to ensure our children are protected.

We will be working hard with PACC and Amaze  to co-produce a strategy for further improvement to the home to school transport service over the next few weeks and parents and carers will be asked for their views on the best ways to do this.”

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