Questions being asked over jobseekers’ trip during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Security trainees at the centre of a controversial trip to London to work as stewards at the Jubilee celebrations have revealed details of the trip.

The group was bussed from Plymouth by the security firm Close Protection UK (CPUK), and dropped off beside the Thames at 3am on Sunday leading to reports that they were forced to sleep rough.

  1. Plymouth security staff wait under London Bridge
    Plymouth security staff wait under London Bridge

One trainee, Ian Byrne, said they waited under London Bridge for two hours until 5am before working as stewards during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River Pageant.

He blamed “moaners and whingers” for exaggerating their plight.

But another Plymouth man, who quit halfway through, said the experience was “terrible”.

Plymouth City Council leader Cllr Tudor Evans has demanded an explanation for the alleged poor treatment of the Plymouth jobseekers.

Mr Evans said he had written to the charity Tomorrow’s People, which is responsible for organising the training as part of the Government’s Welfare to Work programme. The trip was designed to give proof of working as stewards at a major event to go in their NVQ folders. Tomorrow’s People has now begun an investigation.

Ian Byrne, a 25-year-old married father of three who lives in Plymouth city centre, said: “We went under London Bridge. We all had sleeping bags and roll mats. There were already people there – including some elderly ones – waiting to see the Queen.”

Peter King, from Keyham, claimed they were dropped beside the Thames at about 2am and had to wait until 8am. Mr King claimed he did a 14-hour shift as a steward with almost no breaks.

He said later they were taken to a campsite in Essex, but while there he decided to quit and bought his own coach ticket home.

A Herald reader said in an online comment as “Tizzy25”: “I enjoyed it. Out of the 105 people (approximately) who we travelled up with only two went home and reported it to the newspapers. The rest of us had a phenomenal time.”

Abi Levitt, director of development at Tomorrow’s People, said: “We have been told by CPUK that there was a timing error which meant the coaches transporting clients from the South West arrived in central London two hours early.”

Paul Champion

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Twitter: @blogapprentice
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