The Deputy Leader of the Community Action Party Michael Moulding and Salford & Swinton campaigner has received extremely disturbing information about Salford Council's Home to School Transport service.
Many of Salford's additional needs children who are entitled to be educated as with any other child, receive assistance where transport is provided when the child is safely collected from home, taken to school and at the end of each school day is collected from school and taken home again by Salford City Council.
Many of the children receiving this assistance are also escorted by an additional adult to ensure the health & safety of the children when in transport.
This service is provided by the Passenger Transport Unit (PTU) of Salford Council.
Michael Moulding, who campaigned in the 2012 Salford Mayoral elections has received the following information which he is making public to ensure local people are kept informed :-
1) That all transport providers where contacted by the PTU of Salford Council about 18 months ago to be told that they had to return/agree to reduce the cost of their contract by 10% and failure to co-operate would result in retendering of those contracts.
2) That in 2011 onwards many employed "escorts" who has responsibility for ensuring children were transported safely to and from school and vice-versa have lost their jobs at Salford Council and these cuts are continuing in 2012.
3)That existing contractors were informed that when submitting retendering bids via "The Chest" they would be considered by the Council according their "price" IE they were given the clear impression that price was the defining factor on whether they were reawarded a contract.
As a result of the retendering process it is believed that many workers/contractors in Salford who had previously took their responsibilities with due care, attention, giving due regard to safety and had built up many years of good service not only to the children but to their families have had their contracts terminated without full & proper reasons.
In losing these contracts, not only have these Salford families had their livelihoods seriously jeopardised but I can confirm as a result, their homes may be put at risk after providing year on year service some for over a decade, that not only provided value for the tax payer but ensured our young people in Salford were safely transported and escorted to school and back.
Michael Moulding can confirm that he believes a contract may have been awarded by a provider who undercut existing contractors but in doing so has been awarded many contracts and does not have the number of vehicles required that are licensed and insured to provide such work ?
That new contractors who I would have thought would have to be CRB checked are frantically searching for new ad-hoc drivers which could be anyone on our street and in these circumstances who is to say that no schedule 1 offender is mistakenly chosen as a driver ?
Serious concerns have been expressed about whether children who in the past have been escorted, will be escorted in the future to ensure their safety is not put at risk ?
Michael Moulding has spoken to a former "escort" employed by Salford Council who confirmed to him that they never got information about any perceived risks associated with the child. In other words, she says they were told little information about a child which meant potentially increased risks to the child or to others ?
Michael Moulding, Deputy Leader of the Community Action Party says "I am extremely concerned about what I have been told. Why have longstanding Salford workers had contracts taken from them after many years of good service ? Was price a determining factor and if it was has our school children been put at a greater risk as a result ?"
"Who's to say that our school children through cost-cutting and cutting corners are not at risk from Schedule 1 offenders in our communities if any Tom, Dick or Harry is able to take our children to school if there are no proper checks in place ?"
"This becomes more concerning if as a result of cuts more of our children are not escorted and contractors are looking at any means possible to get any Tom, Dick or Harry to drive their vehicles ?"
"Has the PTU disrespected long-standing and loyal contractors because they were reluctant to agree to the previous attempts to slash the cost of their contracts and hence affect their livelihoods and have any new contracts been awarded to companies or individuals that do not even live in our city and if so why and are these new contractors safe to undertake such work ?"
Michael Moulding has confirmed that he will be writing to Pete Hardman, Manager at the Passenger Transport Unit of Salford Council immediately and to Salford's Mayor Ian Stewart. A Freedom of Information request will also be sent.
Michael Moulding says "It is imperative that Salford's children are safe and are not put at risk as a result of nepatism, cost-cutting or incompetence by Salford City Council. Child-safety is of paramount importance to all of us in Salford and if as a result of these changes or practises a child has been subjected to risk, serious questions will need to be answered."
Right - Michael Moulding, Deputy Leader, Community Action Party
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
If any affected family wants to contact Michael Moulding in confidence about these issues please do so on 0161 7948483.
The Deputy Leader of the Community Action Party Michael Moulding has received information that as the new school year is about to start our young children may be being put at risk because of cuts in services, cuts in school escorts and under-cutting of transport contracts where longstanding, loyal & safe contractors have been told after decades of service, they are no longer required.