Cross-party councillors call for stronger action by ECC after residents submit more than 130 incident reports about school bus operator

Uttlesford District Councillors from Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) and Proudly Independent have escalated their cross-party action calling for robust investigations by Essex County Council (ECC), the police and other authorities into a local school bus operator.

As the result of a recent incident two students attended A&E after a double-decker school bus, contracted by ECC and operated by Stephensons, lost the front of its roof following a collision with a tree. After concerns were raised by parents about how that incident was dealt with by the operator, councillors asked residents to get in touch about any general safety concerns.

Neil Gregory (Independent) Neil Gregory (Independent)

Independent Councillor Neil Gregory, who is chair of scrutiny at UDC and initially contacted ECC in 2019 after early concerns were voiced by parents, said “We have been deluged. The number of reports raised about this operator is highly disturbing – and not all about school buses. 19 reports of accidents, crashes including hit and runs; 55 of dangerous driving; 15 of bad language from drivers; and 10 of buses getting lost and dropping off pupils in the wrong places. In total we have more than 130 incidents reported, and more are coming in every day. Many believe that pupils are being put at risk and ECC needs to take responsibility. However the County Councillor responsible at ECC has attempted to distance himself by pretending that the bus is a commercial service and not a school bus, and so not accountable to them. What utter rubbish. They’ve contracted it, and it drives once a day from villages to schools, and back again in the afternoon. It’s a school bus and they should not wash their hands of their responsibility to parents and students.”

Colin Day (R4U) Colin Day (R4U)

R4U’s Colin Day, who has been leading the cross-party activity and is the UDC lead for Community Safety, said “The responsible Essex County Councillor also wrote to the local papers to attempt to brush it off by saying they could find no ‘fault’ and they have ‘confidence’ in the operator. That view is widely at odds with how the affected residents feel and the reports we’ve sent to ECC. As a result we’ve now gone directly to the Chief Executive at ECC to demand his intervention and urgent action. We’ve also sent the dossier of evidence to the Police, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, and Transport Commissioner. Residents can rest assured that our cross-party team is working hard  pushing for robust investigations on their behalf. Please send us any further reports to”