AN EDUCATION chief has apologised after it was found vehicles taking special needs children to school did not have CCTV fitted.

Under Brighton and Hove City Council’s home to school transport contracts, all operators must have CCTV in their vehicles for driver and passenger safety.

But the council has now said one firm tasked with taking special needs children to school was carrying pupils without CCTV installed.

The revelation came despite the fact Edge Public Solutions, a company tasked with organising school transport contracts, assured the council last week all vehicles were fitted with cameras. Education chief, councillor John Allcock, apologised after the revelation and said he would take the issue “very seriously”.

“I am really saddened for the worry this latest issue has caused and apologise wholeheartedly to all concerned,” the Labour councillor said.

“Our priority, as always, is the safety of the children and young people we’re transporting to and from school.

“We are also keen to make sure the disruption experienced at the start of term does not continue. We are deeply concerned about how this latest issue with CCTV has come about and will be looking at what action needs to be taken with urgency.”

Cllr Allcock said an investigation has been launched into the incident.

“We’re setting up an independent review to look at all aspects of the service and I will make sure no stone is left unturned,” he said.

“We’re already making changes and will continue to do so.”

“I also want to continue to offer an apology and reassurance to all families.”

The transport firm concerned, which has not been named, has said all of its vehicles will install CCTV during half-term next week.

A spokesman for the city council said more safety measures will be put in place for pupils.

“We immediately evaluated what extra safety measures needed to go in place in the meantime,” he said.

“We made arrangements to ensure there are DBS-checked Vehicle Passenger Assistants in every vehicle.

“We identified one vehicle where the assessed vulnerability of the passengers led to an additional DBS checked member of council staff to accompany the driver and the assistant.

Pippa Hodge, of the SEND Parent Carers’ Campaign Group, will demand a “truly independent” review into the school transport crisis at a full council meeting at 5.45pm tonight.

She said: “Many parent carers have lost faith in officers and fear reprisals.

“In the past few days, an independent review team has been established, with three Labour councillors and one Green councillor, overseen by a lead reviewer from another local authority.”

“Is this another critical decision in this fiasco that has been decided outside of any publicly accountable process?

“This review must have clout. Awkward questions must be asked regardless of party lines.”

Previously dozens of pupils were left stranded with no way of getting to school after companies contracted to transport them pulled out of council agreements at late notice.