A staffing crisis amongst school bus drivers is continuing, despite the Education Authority assuring recruitment is ongoing, a council has heard.
The issue was raised at a meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.
One member told the council’s Policy and Resources committee meeting that the parents of three children left without transport home were allegedly discouraged from raising their concerns with elected representatives.
Members were discussing a response from the Education Authority and while describing this as comprehensive, Independent councillor Emmet McAleer felt areas still required to be addressed.
“It persists that there is a serious staffing crisis which ultimately means some children are without school buses at certain times of the year,” he said.
Among a number of points, he referred to driver recruitment adverts carried on buses in which the text is so small it is illegible.
He added: “The question remains; was the Education Authority actually serious in recruiting or was it a token gesture so they could say it had been carried out but it didn’t actually result in anything? I’ve spoken to a number of drivers in recent weeks and there’s a belief adverts on buses are a realistic proposal, but they do need to be legible.”
Mr McAleer proposed reverting to the Education Authority to establish if this could be resolved. He added: “We do have a crisis in terms of the impact from the lack of recruitment and maintaining staff.”
Seconding, Ulster Unionist councillor Bert Wilson said one constituent had been discouraged from speaking out.
He said: “Just over a week ago I had a report of children left for three evenings without a way home. That was three miles and one of the children was five. The family weren’t pleased.
“When they mentioned they may contact me, they were more or less told if they spoke to any representative, they may have no bus at all.”
Mr Wilson added: “It’s not good enough. The evenings in question were wet and cold. It’s something I wouldn’t be happy with.”
The proposal passed without dissent.