It took the death of a 15-year-old school boy to force Bridgend County Borough Council to take proper transport safety measures.
Ashley Talbot was killed and his friend seriously injured in December 2014 when they were struck by a school minibus in the grounds of Maesteg Comprehensive School. Ashley was pronounced dead at the scene.
When the school opened in 2008 it soon became apparent that the layby was nowhere near big enough to accommodate all the school buses at home time.
Some of the buses had to park on the opposite side of the road where there was no pavement. This meant that children had to board the bus from the middle of the road with other vehicles travelling in both directions between the rows of waiting buses.
Despite several near misses the council took no action to enlarge the layby so that pupils could safely board the buses from the pavement.
Diane Parker, personal injury solicitor, said: “Our sincere condolences go to Ashley’s family. The tragic thing here is that this was an accident waiting to happen; near misses had already been reported and ignored.
In the end, the work to modify the layby so that children were able to safely board their school buses instead of dicing with death each day only took the council a couple of weeks to complete.
If it was not for the enforcement action by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prohibited children boarding from the road, there may well have been even more accidents before proper safety measures were taken.”
HSE inspector, Helen Turner commented: “The need for children to cross the road to board their bus could have been taken away with proper planning and design, which should always keep vehicles and pedestrians apart.
At HSE we stand by the principle of PLAN, DO, CHECK, ACT. This management approach is as pertinent for school grounds as it is any other workplace.
We hope that this prosecution will serve as a reminder to those with a responsibility of care to address transport risk in schools and actively monitor that their arrangements are effective.”
At the hearing at Cardiff Crown Court this month, Bridgend County Borough Council pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were fined £300,000 and ordered to pay over £29,000 costs.