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Angry parents hit out as children are crammed onto standing-room-only school buses

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angry parents hit out as children are crammed onto standing room only school buses

Angry parents have hit out as children are crammed onto standing-room-only school buses that make social distancing impossible.

Images show pupils in Greater Manchester having to sit on staircases and stand in the aisles due to a lack of space on board.

Some students could also be seen sitting on luggage racks and crowding around the driver’s cab, while many were reported not to be wearing a face mask , or seen taking their covering off after they had passed the driver.

Pupils in Greater Manchester pictured crammed together, with one person sat on the staircase

Pupils in Greater Manchester pictured crammed together, with one person sat on the staircase

Students seen standing in the aisle while on board the Tryers Coaches Service

Students seen standing in the aisle while on board the Tryers Coaches Service

Pupils in Greater Manchester pictured crammed together while sitting on staircases, left, and in the aisles, right, while on board the Tryers Coaches Service to St Patrick’s RC High School

The pictures were taken of the 910 and 909 services from St Patrick’s RC High School in Eccles to Cadishead, which are operated by Tyrers Coaches and subsidised by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

Government guidance states that dedicated school buses in Greater Manchester do not need to abide by the normal 1m (3’3″) social distancing rules.

The reason given for this is that ‘pupils on dedicated school services do not mix with the general public.’

But parents say crowding on board the buses undermines the measures implemented by schools to stop the spread of coronavirus.

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said more bus services needed to be made available by TfGM to stop the issue.

She said: ‘The bus is completely overcrowded and there is a risk of Covid spreading.

‘Some kids are wearing masks, others aren’t. A teacher did come on to warn kids to keep their masks on but some just took them off afterwards.

‘In school, they are in strict bubbles but on the bus the years mix together and there’s no social distancing.

‘We need additional buses so that the kids don’t have to stand up and fall over each other.’

Alison Byrne, head teacher of St Patrick’s RC High School, said: ‘We are aware of the issue of over-crowding on the school buses and have been in liaison with Salford Local authority who have been supporting us to provide additional services; this has been communicated to parents.

Pupils waiting to board the 909 Tryers Coaches service between Cadishead and St Patrick's RC High School in Eccles. A spokesperson said the firm was abiding by Government guidance

Pupils waiting to board the 909 Tryers Coaches service between Cadishead and St Patrick's RC High School in Eccles. A spokesperson said the firm was abiding by Government guidance

Pupils waiting to board the 909 Tryers Coaches service between Cadishead and St Patrick’s RC High School in Eccles. A spokesperson said the firm was abiding by Government guidance

‘All children have been instructed on a daily basis to wear a mask on the bus and staff supervise this at the end of the school day.

‘Until a resolution is found, it may be in pupils’ best interests to find alternative transport to and from school where possible.

‘We are working in very difficult times and, as always, are doing our best to provide the best possible education and support for all our children and families.’

Another parent, whose son attends Unsworth Academy in Bury, reported similar scenes on Tuesday morning [Sept 15] at Radcliffe bus station.

He claimed that many students boarding the 524, 712 and 995 Tyrers Coaches services were not wearing a mask and had to stand on the bus.

He said: ‘I dropped my son off this morning and went to park at Lidl to do some shopping and I was astonished by what I saw.

Pupils standing on board the coach. Government guidance states that dedicated school buses in Greater Manchester do not need to abide by the normal 1m social distancing rules

Pupils standing on board the coach. Government guidance states that dedicated school buses in Greater Manchester do not need to abide by the normal 1m social distancing rules

Pupils standing on board the coach. Government guidance states that dedicated school buses in Greater Manchester do not need to abide by the normal 1m social distancing rules

‘Three buses went past and they were all absolutely packed. I saw 10 students get on one bus and only one of them was wearing a mask.’

The parent praised Unsworth Academy for their response to the pandemic, but said more needed to be done to ensure children wear face masks.

He said: ‘The school has put a lot of measures in place to have school bubbles so that if someone tests positive in that bubble they can isolate.

‘There is no point doing that if on that bus all the year groups are mixing together – it is just ruining what the academy is trying to do.

‘The school has been very proactive but the bus company needs to enforce the wearing of masks.

‘This is a hotspot area for coronavirus and there must be thousands of children getting the bus across Greater Manchester.

‘There is no point in children wearing masks in school if they don’t wear them on buses where it is an absolute breeding ground.’

Guidance for children boarding school buses 

The Department for Education states that it is important, wherever possible, to maximise social distancing within vehicles.

Children either sit with their ‘bubble’ on school transport, or with the same constant group of children each day.

Children should clean their hands before boarding transport and again on disembarking.

Additional cleaning of vehicles is put in place.

Organised queuing and boarding is put in place. 

Ventilation of fresh air (from outside the vehicle) should be maximised, particularly through opening windows and ceiling vents.

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A spokesperson for Unsworth Academy said: ‘Unsworth Academy have raised numerous concerns with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) regarding social distancing measures on transport to-and-from school.

‘School leaders have repeatedly enquired about the implementation of additional bus services in order to reduce the risk of overcrowding

‘Unfortunately, TfGM have stated that this is not possible due to a lack of funding.

‘To enable their children to get to school safely, the Academy has been working closely with parents to press for improvements in public transport provision during these difficult times.’

Tory MP for Bury South, Christian Wakeford, agreed that more frequent services were needed in order to solve any issues of overcrowding.

Mr Wakeford said: ‘We raised the issue with TFGM that more buses were needed before the children went back to school.

‘Students not wearing masks is not helpful in this situation and schools need to be setting a reminder to their students about wearing face coverings.

‘Judgement needs to be used by bus drivers. With coronavirus, the number needs to be lower so we can all abide by the guidelines.’

A spokesperson for Tyrers Coaches said the firm was abiding by Government guidance, and has implemented a number of safety measures on services.

Government advice states that ‘local authorities will not be required to uniformly apply the social distancing guidelines for public transport, on dedicated school or college transport.’

TfGM’s interim head of bus services, Alison Chew, said: ‘I’d like to reassure those using the bus network that we’re working hard with operators to make it safe and ensure that government guidance is being followed.

‘The guidance around dedicated school bus services – which doesn’t currently require operators to limit the number of children on board – is set by the Department for Transport (DfT), and it is the responsibility of each individual operator to ensure this is followed.

‘We know space is limited on school bus services, which is why we’re encouraging those who can to walk or cycle and why we are putting on almost 300 additional trips a day.

‘I would also ask that students continue to take responsibility for keeping themselves and others safe by following a few simple measures: wear a face mask, clean and sanitise your hands regularly, use contactless payment and keep your distance from others where possible.’

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British mother who fought Sharia courts in Dubai to see her son faces losing her home

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british mother who fought sharia courts in dubai to see her son faces losing her home

A British mother who fought the Sharia courts in Dubai for access to her son faces having to sell her home – after a UK judge ordered her to pay nearly £100,000 towards her ex-husband’s legal costs.

Afsana Lachaux, a former policy aide to Gordon Brown who now works for The Princes Trust, has spent eight years battling for custody of Louis, her youngest child, after the Emirate state granted a divorce and branded her an unfit mother. 

She currently sees him for six hours a year in an approved contact centre.

But despite the Court of Appeal in France ruling that the divorce was invalid and ‘manifestly discriminatory’, the Dubai decision has been upheld by the British family courts.

In a ruling described as ‘unconscionable’ by a member of her legal team, devastated Ms Lachaux has now been ordered to pay her former partner Bruno’s legal costs of £93,867.96 – and may face bankruptcy if she does not pay it in full.

Afsana Lachaux, a former policy aide to Gordon Brown who now works for The Princes Trust, has spent eight years battling for custody of Louis, her youngest child, (pictured together) after the Emirate state granted a divorce and branded her an unfit mother

Afsana Lachaux, a former policy aide to Gordon Brown who now works for The Princes Trust, has spent eight years battling for custody of Louis, her youngest child, (pictured together) after the Emirate state granted a divorce and branded her an unfit mother

Afsana Lachaux, a former policy aide to Gordon Brown who now works for The Princes Trust, has spent eight years battling for custody of Louis, her youngest child, (pictured together) after the Emirate state granted a divorce and branded her an unfit mother

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Afsana, 52, said the decision made her feel like she was ‘drowning every day’ and the only option was to sell her house.

‘I’ve lost my child, I’ve lost my career and now I could lose my home,’ she said.

‘I could lose my home and I am terrified.’

Ms Lachaux’s ordeal began in 2012 when she was living in Dubai with her then-husband, French aerospace engineer Bruno Lachaux, and one-year-old Louis.

The couple had married in London but their relationship had broken down. Their subsequent divorce in Dubai was based on its sharia legal system.

Official translations from the proceedings stated she had not ‘obeyed her husband’ and was a negligent mother because Louis had eczema and she had struggled to breastfeed. 

Ms Lachaux (pictured holding a sign reading Bring Louis Home) began her ordeal in 2012 when she was living in Dubai with her then-husband, French aerospace engineer Bruno Lachaux, and one-year-old Louis

Ms Lachaux (pictured holding a sign reading Bring Louis Home) began her ordeal in 2012 when she was living in Dubai with her then-husband, French aerospace engineer Bruno Lachaux, and one-year-old Louis

Ms Lachaux (pictured holding a sign reading Bring Louis Home) began her ordeal in 2012 when she was living in Dubai with her then-husband, French aerospace engineer Bruno Lachaux, and one-year-old Louis

Ms Lachaux's currently sees her youngest child (pictured together) for six hours a year in an approved contact centre

Ms Lachaux's currently sees her youngest child (pictured together) for six hours a year in an approved contact centre

Ms Lachaux’s currently sees her youngest child (pictured together) for six hours a year in an approved contact centre

Despite French Courts’ ruling, however the British family courts concluded that overall the Dubai proceedings had been fair and the decision to award Bruno sole custody would probably have been the same in the UK.

‘I was in a very dark place at that time. It felt like my son had been ripped from my womb,’ she recalls.

The divorce had to be ratified back in Bruno’s home country of France and, last year, its Supreme Court ruled it was invalid and ‘manifestly discriminatory’ as it applied non-reciprocal grounds for divorce imposed by Emirati law on women only.

The ruling encouraged Ms Lachaux, who has two older sons from a previous marriage, to seek a similar judgement in the UK, hoping that it could result in her gaining greater access to Louis.

But Justice Nicholas Mostyn instead backed the legal outcome in Dubai, and the Court of Appeal in London agreed.

Justice Mostyn made severe criticisms of both parties in the case but, in a highly unusual move in a case involving access to children, he also ruled that Afsana would have to pay her ex-husband’s legal costs – with eight per cent interest added every day.

Ms Lachaux, who was awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for her work campaigning for justice and the protection of women, is now on anti-depressants and sleeping pills to help her cope with the strain

Ms Lachaux, who was awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for her work campaigning for justice and the protection of women, is now on anti-depressants and sleeping pills to help her cope with the strain

Ms Lachaux, who was awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for her work campaigning for justice and the protection of women, is now on anti-depressants and sleeping pills to help her cope with the strain

She has launched a crowdfunding campaign to meet the court demand, and is determined to raise awareness of the way British courts treat people with mental health issues (pictured previously with her son)

She has launched a crowdfunding campaign to meet the court demand, and is determined to raise awareness of the way British courts treat people with mental health issues (pictured previously with her son)

She has launched a crowdfunding campaign to meet the court demand, and is determined to raise awareness of the way British courts treat people with mental health issues (pictured previously with her son)

It came even though Ms Lachaux’s legal team argued that such an award was unreasonable given she then had no job and had been suffering from PTSD.

‘The judge found I had a mental health illness, found I’d been traumatised and knew I had no money. How is that right?,’ she said.

Human rights lawyer David Haigh, a campaigner for human rights in the UAE who has been helping her with her case, said: ‘The costs imposed upon her by the Family Court – and remember, we’re talking about the Family Court – are just extortionate.

‘In upholding the Dubai judgement, the courts here weren’t even required to conduct a full hearing.

‘To expect her to pay fees totalling nearly £100,000 is unconscionable and the damage that it’s done to her and her family is profound.’

Ms Lachaux, who was awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for her work campaigning for justice and the protection of women, is now on anti-depressants and sleeping pills to help her cope with the strain. 

She has launched a crowdfunding campaign to meet the court demand, and is determined to raise awareness of the way British courts treat people with mental health issues.

‘I also want to shine a light on the judicial system and how they treat ordinary mums,’ she said.

‘The judges have to be held accountable. There’s no understanding of the daily reality of women like myself.

‘If payday loan sharks and finance companies and credit card companies aren’t allowed to punish people with mental health in this way, why is the court allowed to do that?

‘The law says ability to pay isn’t an excuse and I’m still trying to challenge that.’

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Secret Service intercepts package to Trump containing deadly poison RICIN 

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secret service intercepts package to trump containing deadly poison ricin

A package containing the poison ricin and addressed to President Donald Trump was intercepted by law enforcement earlier this week.

All packages addressed to the White House are sorted and screened at a secure offsite facility prior to delivery. Two law enforcement sources told CNN that two tests were done to confirm the presence of ricin.

The envelope to the White House was caught at the final offsite processing facility where mail is screened before being sent to the White House mail room. 

Investigators believe that it was sent from Canada, a law enforcement official told the New York Times

The Secret Service has intercepted a package addressed to Trump containing deadly ricin

The Secret Service has intercepted a package addressed to Trump containing deadly ricin

The Secret Service has intercepted a package addressed to Trump containing deadly ricin

Ricin is a highly potent toxin derived from castor beans, and is extremely lethal if inhaled or injected, but less so if ingested. Inhaling a dose the size of a few grains of salt can be lethal to adults. 

‘The F.B.I. and our U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service partners are investigating a suspicious letter received at a U.S. government mail facility,’ the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement to the Times. ‘At this time, there is no known threat to public safety.’ 

Deadly ricin has previously been used to target American politicians through the mail.

In 2014, actress Shannon Richardson, who appeared on The Walking Dead, was convicted of sending envelopes containing ricin addressed to then President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

She was sentenced to 18 years in prison. 

All packages addressed to the White House are sorted and screened at a secure offsite facility prior to delivery

All packages addressed to the White House are sorted and screened at a secure offsite facility prior to delivery

All packages addressed to the White House are sorted and screened at a secure offsite facility prior to delivery

Ricin was also featured in a multi-season plot arc in the television series Breaking Bad, which inspired several real-life criminal schemes involving the poison.

In 2014, Georgetown University student Daniel Milzman pleaded guilty to a federal charge after a bag of ricin was found in his dorm room. 

Prosecutors say he had planned to use it on another student he had formerly been in a relationship with. He was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison. 

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Pope Francis reassures LGBT people that God loves them. Many felt the church did not accept them

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pope francis reassures lgbt people that god loves them many felt the church did not accept them

Parents concerned that religion has ignored their LGBT children have been told by Pope Francis that God loved their children as they are.

He spoke to the parents of 40 LGBT children from the Italian association, Tenda di Gionata (Jonathan’s Tent). 

Members of Jonathan’s Tent welcomes LGBT Christians, their families and pastoral workers and it provides them with support and information.

It was founded in 2018 by a group of people inspired by a Catholic priest, the late Reverend David Esposito, of the Diocese of Fermo, in the Marches region of Italy.

Mara Grassi, vice president of the association, along with her husband Agostino Usai presented the Pope with a booklet entitled Genitori Fortunati (Fortunate Parents).

Pope Francis has reassured the parents of LGBT children that God loved them

Pope Francis has reassured the parents of LGBT children that God loved them

Pope Francis has reassured the parents of LGBT children that God loved them

The booklet documented the experiences of the parents of LGBT children with the church.

It stated that many of the experiences were difficult and that, despite seeking to be accepted by the church, they were too often seen as undesirables. 

Mara told Pope Francis: ‘We wish to create a bridge to the church so that the church too can change its way of looking at our children, no longer excluding them but fully welcoming them.’

The Pope met the parents’ group following the public audience in the Renaissance courtyard of San Damaso in the Vatican.

Speaking to Avvenire, the daily paper of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, she said: ‘our association aims to foster dialogue between the church and the families of LGBT (people). 

‘We consider ourselves fortunate because we had to change the way that we had always looked at our children.

‘We found a new way of looking that enabled us to see in them the beauty and love of God.’ 

Members of the Jonathan's Tent group met the Pope to discuss religion and LGBT people

Members of the Jonathan's Tent group met the Pope to discuss religion and LGBT people

Members of the Jonathan’s Tent group met the Pope to discuss religion and LGBT people

Mara revealed that she is the mother of four children, the oldest who is gay, and that she did not feel that the church accepted him.

She said: ‘After I came to know that my son was homosexual, I suffered a lot because the rules of the church made me think that he was excluded from the love of God.’ 

The group gave the Pope a rainbow coloured T-shirt with the words ‘In Love There Is No Fear’ on it.

He told them: ‘The church does not exclude them because she loves them deeply. 

‘God loves our children because they are all children of God. The church loves our children as they are.’

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