Taxpayers slam ‘waste of cash’ as taxi driver makes 600-mile round trip for school run | UK | News | EUROtoday

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A dad from Cornwall could not consider his ears when he came upon {that a} taxi which arrived to take his son 4 miles to his major school had come all the way in which from Essex, nearly 300 miles away.

Meanwhile one other driver who took three pupils to the identical school final week had pushed from Shropshire – nearly 250 miles away, a transfer which Adam Paynter has slammed as a “waste of money.”

The driver from Essex is being paid to take pupils to and from North Petherwin Primary School, close to Launceston, and between the school runs is staying at a Travelodge throughout the Cornish border at Sourton Cross, close to Okehampton, in Devon.

Adam Paynter, whose son was picked up by the cab registered in Essex, to the east of Lonfon, mentioned: “It’s unbelievable. If I told you that down the pub, you’d think I was having a laugh and I’d had too many drinks.”

The dad, who represents Launceston North and North Petherwin ward at Cornwall Council, mentioned the 600-mile round trip was a “complete waste of money” and questioned whether or not public funds had been getting used to pay for the school transport, that are funded by the native authority.

However, the council mentioned it was a short lived measure and it wasn’t paying for the momentary relocation of taxi workers, the fee of their journey to and from Cornwall or their lodging.

Mr Paynter, who’s a former chief of Cornwall Council, mentioned his son and two women, who additionally attend the first school, used to get picked up by a council-funded mini-bus, however that was later lowered to a taxi from Launceston seven miles away. He thought it was unhealthy sufficient final yr when a taxi from Truro took over and began making a round-trip of over 100 miles every single day to do the school run.

He mentioned: “Last year it was slightly odd that the tender was given to A2B Taxis in Truro. He was driving up from Truro just to take my son and the two girls to the local primary school, going back to Truro and then coming back in the afternoon to take them home. That’s a good 110-mile-plus round trip. I didn’t think it was that clever – surely they could find a nearer taxi?”

Mr Paynter mentioned he was advised by the council’s passenger transport unit that nobody had picked up the tender to take the pupils to school, so it was given to A2B Taxis which covers the entire of Cornwall. He added: “It didn’t seem to make sense with climate change and everything else. You can do your own maths of how much it would cost to drive from Truro to North Petherwin, back again, and doing the same in the afternoon.”

The councillor, who’s deputy chief of the Independent Group on the council, mentioned: “They’ve gone one better this year. The school year started last Wednesday – we had no correspondence from Cornwall Council or any operator, so we rang the taxi driver from A2B and asked what’s going on. He hadn’t got the contract. Have a guess where the taxi came from to pick up my son?”

“I recommended Penzance or, at a stretch, someplace in Devon.

“Well, I asked the same of my colleagues and they got nowhere near,” mentioned Mr Paynter. “This week it’s been done by a taxi driver from Essex, registered with Braintree District Council, with a Braintree plate on his car.

“Last week, the taxi that took my son and the girls to school had come down from Shropshire, working for the same company in Essex. He told me he was doing those three days, then there would be somebody else this week. He was staying in the middle of nowhere for two nights when he did the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for the children and then drove back to Shropshire.

“The driver from Essex is staying at a Travelodge at Sourton Cross, near Okehampton, and he’s just doing the pick-ups and drop-offs either end of the day for three kids to go to North Petherwin School and he lives in Essex, and he’ll drive back on Friday afternoon. You wonder what he’s going to do for the other ten hours of the day. Can you believe it?”

The councillor added: “I’ve been leader of the council, I’ve been finance portfolio holder – that is something we would not sanction and would never have done as Independents running the council. When we ran the council it was all about local procurement and money going into local pockets. At least if it’s a Truro driver you’ve got someone in Cornwall getting a wage and a company is getting money out of the council.

“You’ve got someone coming down from Essex, the kids don’t know them – this is the second driver they’ve had in five days. Who’s going to turn up next week? Are they going to come from Edinburgh?”

The pupils needed to inform the taxi driver he was going the mistaken approach on one of his first journeys.

“He said he didn’t have a clue where he was or where he was going, and yesterday he was quarter of an hour late because the sat-nav took him completely the wrong way. The two girls in the back of the taxi told him he was going the wrong way and they directed him back to ours. You couldn’t make it up,” added Mr Paynter.

“Considering the council has declared a climate emergency, it would be interesting to see if they’ve worked out how much carbon those decisions are making if they’re driving from Essex to Cornwall.”

Mr Paynter mentioned: “The council seems to be getting more and more out of touch, and certainly the way it is being run at the minute – they’re cutting services left, right and centre while maximising council tax and wasting money.”

When requested in regards to the logic of sending taxi drivers from Essex and Shropshire to do a school run in Cornwall – and the way a lot it was costing – Cornwall Council was fast to clarify it wasn’t paying for the drivers’ journey or lodging, and it was a short lived measure till the corporate might make use of native drivers.

A spokesperson for the council mentioned: “A company called 24/7 Taxis who specialise in school transport and operate across multiple local authorities, have established themselves in Cornwall. The company is employing new drivers locally and their Cornwall operation is based here.

“The demand for school transport is growing and, until now, we have not had enough taxi companies to cater for this need – about 30 transport routes for around 60 to 70 students.

“As the company is in the process of establishing itself, it is temporarily supplementing the local workforce with drivers from other areas of their business. Cornwall Council is not paying for the temporary relocation of staff, the cost of their travel to and from Cornwall or their accommodation. It is very much a short-term measure while more drivers come through the required checks and processes before they can start work. The fact that the company is able to do this is a positive of working with a supplier with resource available nationally which can be utilised at a local level where needed.

“The arrival of this company is an example of the hard work taking place within the council to encourage and grow the supply of transport providers in Cornwall, helping to ensure the council can meet its obligations to support school, post-16 and social care travel, whilst providing employment opportunities for local people.”

Mr Paynter argued that the council’s assertion “doesn’t add up”. He mentioned: “There was a massive fuss only a few months ago when the council removed the limit on the number of taxis that could operate and we heard there were now too many taxis in Newquay, and it was affecting people’s livelihoods. Yet the council says there aren’t enough taxis in Cornwall to provide travel to schools.

“We are hearing there are now too many taxis in Cornwall because of the change of policy, but the council is bringing taxi companies in from Essex. These school trips would be a solid base for any taxi in Cornwall to cover – the work’s guaranteed.”