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Greater than Eight campaign stirs up strong emotions

- 29-Sep-2017 -

In this blog, we share Pat Harris' emotive and vehement comments she left when signing our petition, campaigning to close the safety loopholes regarding minibus drivers in the UK. Please be aware, some of the details shared here may be upsetting.

BUSK (Belt Up School Kids) was founded in 1993 to bring about changes in legislation so that school children travelling in coaches and minibuses would be provided with a lap and diagonal safety belts.

Since launching the petition to ask the Government to bring minibus testing standards in line with the European standards and make driving and being a passenger in a minibus safer for all road users, we have had some incredibly moving and emotive comments left.

We would like to share a few of those comments with you, to demonstrate just how important this campaign is, and to demonstrate the fervour our campaign has stirred up.

Starting with the truly touching and vehement comments from BUSK UK director, Pat Harris:

‘I hope Chris Grayling reads the comments on this (petition) site. I will explain why...
On 18 November, it will be the 24th anniversary of the Hagley School minibus crash. Eleanor Fry, a teacher, fell asleep at the wheel of a converted goods van on a return school trip. Twelve out of the 14 children on board died almost instantly. Miss Fry had worked all day, driven to London in one of two minibuses the school owned. Before returning, the other teacher told her that he was buying fish and chips for his pupils but Miss Fry was tired so she decided to just start off back to the school. As we all know, she drove into the back of a motorway maintenance vehicle and the bus became a fire ball. Passing motors stopped to help. They dragged four pupils out of the back of the bus but had to get clear as the heat was too much and they thought the bus was going to explode. Two of the four they rescued, survived but went on to have their own problems of guilt that they survived and more. Then the second teacher drove past, deciding not to stop for fear of what his pupils might see. He knew the burning wreck was the other school's minibus. He did not at that point, know how many had died. He arrived at the school around midnight and knew that he would have to break the news that the other bus was not coming back. Imagine what that was like for him, his pupils and all the parents waiting. And wait, parents did, until they were told the awful news of whether their child had lived or died. One thing that has stuck with me over the years is this... parents of children that died in that crash are still angry that the circumstances that led to the crash that stole their children's lives and futures, still exist today. How shameful is that, that the Government Mr. Grayling, has still not demanded safer standards for school children? Are you going to be the one that will make a difference and ensure that all teachers driving pupils in minibuses, are legally required to be fit and healthy to drive, have eye tests and medicals every three to five years, have their driver licenses checked on a regular basis to ensure they are clean and to just make sure they still hold one?! Are you going to be the one that demands teachers are adequately trained, including undergoing CPC training and are required to clearly understand their legal obligations when driving a minibus? Right now, BUSK can reveal that there are many, many, in fact, far too many schools up and down the country that are operating illegally and thus, putting pupils and teachers at risk. There are schools using a Section 19 Permit that think it is ok to drive outside of the UK using this permit when it is not. There are teachers that do not feel confident to drive the school minibus but feel they cannot refuse when asked. Teachers are trained to teach. Is it not time teachers did exactly that if they are not prepared or their schools are not prepared to fund them being trained properly so they are safe drivers and the pupils afforded a safer journey?

For one set of parents of a child killed in the M40 Hagley crash, they have supported BUSK campaigns for years, helping us to chip away at this important safety breach but how many people even realise that it is 24 years since this tragic crash which was avoidable if more people took safety more seriously? Not many people will know that for these families who have been devastated forever, the 18th of November each year is a time when they hide away from the world to avoid the horror of seeing news items that only serve to bring up the sorrow and anger all over again. The sorrow cannot go but the anger could be released if they thought the Government cared enough to prevent another Hagley disaster. Mr. Grayling, do feel free to contact BUSK for more information about this issue and I invite you to meet with some parents to hear what they have to say, to listen to the simple things they want you to do. I think you owe them that, don't you?
Pat Harris, BUSK Director

We think this sums up the feelings of many, and shows precisely why so many are signing the petition. The next blog will contain a few more comments from supporters.

If you would like to show support for the Greater than Eight Campaign and sign the petition, please follow this link: http://bit.ly/greaterthan8petition

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