For most pupils going back to school and work, the rain yesterday morning was a slight inconvenience.
But it was especially wet for Ysgol Maes Garmon and Ysgol Alun school pupils as they waited for more than an hour for their schoolbus to Mold for a second consecutive day.
Flintshire councillor Tony Sharps, grandfather of two Ysgol Maes Garmon students, was concerned for the welfare of his grandchildren after they were left waiting for 80 minutes yesterday morning at the Northop Hall bus stop.
Following his worries that the bus was late on the very first day of the new school year, Cllr Sharps phoned Flintshire Council’s transport office to ask when the bus would turn up.
Cllr Sharps said: “I was assured by the transport department on Monday that the bus would be on time on Tuesday morning after it was late on Monday. It took me ages to get through to them too.
“The original coach service had been dismissed in the summer, and I was told Stagecoach would turn up at 8.10am on Tuesday.”
After keeping in touch with his grandchildren, who were waiting at the Northop Hall bus stop yesterday morning, the councillor was “shocked” to discover the bus service did not turn up on time.
“It was absolutely peeing it down outside.
“My grandchildren are in the older years at the high school and they were mainly complaining about the lack of communication.
“The younger children, especially on Monday, had never been to high school and were frightened. It was their first time, and they didn’t know what was going on.
“All the children missed their first lessons and the little ones didn’t know which classes to
Cllr Sharps added he was “disgusted” at how the transport department dealt with the bus delays.
“They sent out highway surveyors in council white vans to explain that the bus wouldn’t turn up, and to wait with the children until mini buses came at 9.30am.
“These council surveyors, who are not CRB checked, were looking after kids on the side of the road.
“It is an utter lack of communication when road engineers are sent to babysit children.
“The department has had six weeks to sort the buses out and they still can’t get it right.
“It’s a chaos of a department in this day and age, and something will be done about it.
”I will demand an investigation and see what these people have been doing for the last six weeks.”
Christine Witty, from Northop, said her two daughters were forced to take the public bus to school after the bus service to failed to arrive on Monday and Tuesday mornings.
She said: “There has only ever been a few issues with school transport from Northop Hall to Ysgol Maes Garmon in the previous four years.
“On Monday, September 4, my daughters’ first day back school, no school transport arrived and they waited until after 9am to get the general public bus and eventually got to school at close to 10am.
“There was no transport home, with a minibus eventually being sent to bring the children home.
“The same thing happened again this morning, though after a number of phone calls to the council a taxi was sent to collect my two daughters and three other pupils.
“Thankfully my daughters are very responsible and capable of making the correct decisions to ensure their safety.
“But I’d be very concerned at the lack of organisation and duty of care by the council if they were younger.”
Steve Jones, chief officer for Streetscene and transportation at Flintshire Council, said: “The council has undertaken a root and branch review of all its passenger transport services and a number of transport routes have been redesigned from September 2017.
“We are aware of an issue with capacity on two buses from the Connah’s Quay and Northop Hall areas to Mold Alun High School and Ysgol Maes Garmon, due to fare paying pupils, who are travelling outside their catchment area.
“Duplicate buses will be on the routes from this afternoon which should alleviate the capacity issues and staff will be on site at the schools this afternoon and on the bus routes tomorrow morning to assist and ensure that no further issues occur.”
Mr Jones added: “The council transports in excess of 5,000 learners to schools and colleges across the region each day.
“Work commences at the beginning of the summer to allocate eligible pupils to routes and set up the transport arrangements.
“However, despite this, minor issues do materialise every September once the transport commences and this year is no different.
“The council will ensure that any emerging issues are dealt with promptly and will continue to monitor the transport arrangements, as is customary each year.”
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