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HSE urges schools to review traffic arrangements after council fined £300k

Bridgend County Borough Council has been fined following the death of a 15-year-old boy and injury of another after a collision with the school minibus.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the council and has urged all schools to review traffic arrangements within their grounds, and where possible design layouts so pupils are separated from moving traffic.

Bridgend pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £29,228.

Ashley Talbot was crossing a road in the grounds of Maesteg Comprehensive School to board a bus when the collision took place and he died at the scene.

The HSE found a lay-by created before the school opened in September 2008 was not large enough to accommodate all school buses at home time.

This problem had been identified by council officers, but Bridgend made no plans to enlarge the lay-by so that pupils could board safely.

South Wales Police brought no charges against the driver of the minibus.

HSE inspector Helen Turner said: “We believe Ashley’s death could have been prevented, and a series of missed opportunities meant this incident was waiting to happen.

“Although there had been previous near misses at Maesteg, there was no system for these to be reported and discussed. There are some clear lessons to be learned, particularly for other modern school sites.”

Lindsay Harvey, Bridgend’s corporate director for education and family support, said: “We deeply regret the tragic circumstances that resulted in the death of young Ashley Talbot and the injury to Tom Burns. 

“We acknowledge that we should have done more to ensure that pupils at Maesteg School were safe from the risk posed by moving vehicles when they approached buses at the end of the school day.” 

Mr Harvey said the council had since introduced safety improvements both inside and outside the school to better segregate vehicles and pedestrians and had conducted safety audits at other schools.

Mark Smulian