What North Somerset did next when things went wrong

Huw Thomas Jones, Head of Service at North Somerset, presenting to the audience

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. We invited Huw Thomas Jones, head of service at North Somerset Council, to share his team’s experience of what they “did next when things went wrong”. 

Huw’s team were faced with every school transport planner’s nightmare … three days before the beginning of the school year in September 2019, a software system they were using completely failed.

This happened despite doing all the due diligence required when procuring something from an outside supplier.

They declared a council emergency and had to “go back to basics” using spreadsheets and sending letters. But Huw’s “very small but very effective internal team” managed to turn it around. 


  • created an internal database, completely in-house; 
  • redesigned their communication strategy, including a parent portal;
  • began their journey with QRoutes. 

A member of the audience asked about their main learning from the original procurement. Huw said that they have asked themselves if they did something wrong. However, an internal audit found that the team followed all the right steps, including giving the supplier an opportunity to put things right.

Most of the team preferred the in-house solution as it better fitted their processes. And feedback from the parent/carer forum about the service to the clients was positive.

Next steps are to evaluate, improve and repeat. 

We’re hosting another School Transport Seminar in Newcastle on Friday 27th January. The event is free to attend for local authority officers involved in the provision of home to school transport. However, places are limited – register now to secure your place