Paedophiles ‘could get a ticket to ride’

Thomas Cowley High School headteacher Martyn Taylor is thinking of running his own school bus for students such as Jack and Ben Scott after worries over pupils' safety.
Thomas Cowley High School headteacher Martyn Taylor is thinking of running his own school bus for students such as Jack and Ben Scott after worries over pupils' safety.
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Fears have been expressed that paedophiles could be sitting next to students on the school bus to Donington.

Pupils travelling on a service bus with adult passengers are taking this risk every day, according to Martyn Taylor, head of Thomas Cowley High.

Mr Taylor said the school was so concerned for the welfare of his students on the Cropley’s service from Spalding – and disgusted transport chiefs at Lincolnshire County Council “only seemed to care about cost” – that it was planning to run its own bus.

He said: “Eleven-year-olds are getting on the bus from Spalding with adults who get on and off as they please.

“Surely this is a safety issue. If I were a parent I would certainly be concerned, especially on dark nights in mid-winter when children could have to walk alone down a country lane.

“It’s no good waiting for something to happen and then thinking ‘oh dear, why wasn’t something done about it?’.

“That is why we are planning to run our own bus, as well as making it cheap enough for parents who want their children to come to our school from outside the catchment area.

“We’ve tried to negotiate with Cropley’s about the service and the cost but to no avail.

“So I’m afraid in the long run they will miss out.

“We are already looking at routes and have been in negotiations with other providers.”

Parents’ concern about the cost of travelling to Thomas Cowley High School in Donington was highlighted in the Spalding Guardian.

Brothers Ben (15) and Jack (11) Scott had been left outside the school gate by a Cropley’s driver, who said there was no room.

Their mum said parents had been enraged a few days earlier when the bus company charged pupils £5 for a return trip, even if a student only wanted to use the service to get to school.

This was resolved with single fares of £2.50 being charged, but Mr Taylor says this is still too much.

He said: “How can Lincolnshire County Council say this charge is reasonable?

“If you have two children, that’s £200 a month.

“We are a very successful school and I make no apologies for the fact parents from outside the catchment area want their children to come here.

“Parental choice is suppose to be paramount, but it doesn’t happen at this school.

“It’s all about cost. I can understand them choosing a service bus because it’s cheaper.

“We already suffer from selection, but this is economic discrimination. It’s like saying you can only come to our school if you have enough money.

“We tried to negotiate with the county council to deal with this in a fair way, but they give the bus service to anyone who gives them a cheap tender. It stinks.

”But we will battle on to make travelling to school by bus affordable and safe.”

David Robinson, school services manager, said: “This is a public service bus, but we buy tickets for pupils on these services where they are entitled to it.

“Where we can’t justify putting on a school bus for too few pupils this is the most cost effective solution. The county council spends £26m on home to school and college transport for those entitled to it every year.

“This is a commercial service and if pupils are not entitled to free transport they have to pay, like all other fee paying customers. It is up to parents and carers to pick up their children from bus stops if they feel it is necessary.”