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'We will boycott y the school bus' ANGER OVER CHILD SAFETY AFTER CHAPERONES TAKEN OFF SERVIC ANG NGER OV SA SAFET ETY AFT FTER CHA HAPERO RONES ES TA SE AKEN ERV RVICES CES ES.

Byline: Ryan Brailsford

ANGRY parents are to boycott school transport after councillors axed bus chaperones who keep safe children as young as four.

The plan was approved yesterday by Warwickshire Council, despite parents' fears for their children's safety.

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The cost-cutting scheme will save up to pounds 700,000 a year - as the council seeks unprecedented pounds 60m budget cuts by 2014. Boycotting parent, Andy Howes, of Hatton Green, near Warwick, said: "I would never put my children on a bus without a chaperone.

"If parents want to make a change, then a boycott of school buses is a good way to go. There are some dangerous turnings on the route my daughter's bus takes. I don't want to think the driver will be distracted on them, following last year's fatal school bus crash on the A4177."

The passenger supervisors travel on home-to-school transport for all Warwickshire primary schools.

Mr Howes added: "It ought to be a legal requirement for kids of four or five. If you let your child on a bus alone, you'd probably get prosecuted."

It comes after fees were increased for school transport in Warwickshire, while concessions for pupils from low-income households remain. Conservative councillor Chris Saint (Shipston) urged his Tory colleagues to reconsider.

"Schools in the area have been closed with the understanding that it will be cheaper to provide transport to other ones than keep them running. To that end, I feel we're not doing the job properly.

Conservative councillor Heather Timms (Earl Craven), cabinet member for children, young people and families, said soaring costs of the service meant the cut was necessary.

She added: "This council is not immune to the increase in fuel costs.

"Where there are students of mixed ages, or where behaviour is an issue, there will be an assistant. Though I reserve the right to be flexible on this."

The council will also consider retaining passenger assistants on double-decker buses, and services that require students to be escorted on foot. Coun Timms added: "If we delay the decision, we won't make the savings we've already accounted for."

Coun Saint replied: "She will have to learn this isn't just some bureaucratic practice, we're talking about people here. We can't abandon them. You can't just put those very young children on buses alone. It horrifies the people I represent" Parents have claimed they would be prepared to pay more council tax than lose their peace of mind.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Apr 16, 2011
Words:406
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