anger at plan to axe patrol crossings

9/10/13- Cllr Andy Batsford and Helen Dempsey from the Amherst Road School Crossing Patrol with parents and children protesting about proposed cuts to the crossing patrol.
9/10/13- Cllr Andy Batsford and Helen Dempsey from the Amherst Road School Crossing Patrol with parents and children protesting about proposed cuts to the crossing patrol.

PARENTS have been left stunned by county council plans to take away lollypop ladies at three primary schools in a bid to save £140,000.

Crossing patrols at St Paul’s Primary, in Amherst Road, Christchurch Primary in Woodvale Road and Hollington Junior and Infant School off Quebec Road have all been identified for possible withdrawal.

On Tuesday, the county council’s cabinet will meet to discuss a report drafted by Rupert Clubb, director of economy, transport and environment.

The report states there are 61 crossing patrols sites of which 25 meet county council criteria. There are a further 36 that don’t meet the criteria. Of these eight are run by volunteers, 15 are sponsored by local busienss or community groups and a further 13 are funded by the county council.

The criteria looks at the number of children crossing, the direction they travel from, the speed of the traffic, the number of traffic at peak time, the condition of the road and lines of sight.

St Paul’s Primary, Christchurch Primary and Hollington Junior and Infant School are part of the 13 funded by the ESCC that don’t meet the criteria.

The move is part of a wider process to identify savings of £445,000 over the next two years by reducing road safety education activities. The authority has to save £60m overall by 2017. If approved the patrols would stop from April 1.

But parents are incensed by the plan and fear it could put their children at risk.

Amanda Griffiths, of Aldborough Road, has two children who attend St Paul’s.

She said: “We are concerned because it’s such a busy road. There’s a blind spot at Horntye Road and traffic is really heavy in the morning. If there’s no facility to crowss the children safety, it will take an accident to do something.”

Tom Banks, of Upper Park Road, also has two children at St Paul’s. He said: “It’s meant to be a 20mph zone but you see care flying past the school. The worry is there will be an accident one day. I feel very uncomfortable about it.”

Councillor Andy Batsford, has two children who attend St Pauls. He said: “We shall start a petition. Our lollypop lady has been there 20 years and probably cost only around £2,000. This is a terrible accident waiting to happen if she is taken away. What price a child’s life?”

County councillor for Hollington Phil Scott said: “Blackman Avenue has a history of fatalities and personal injury accidents stretching back over many years. To remove the will place families in danger and is absolute madness. These are penny pinching cuts. I would therefore urge the authority not to risk our childrens lives by making these cuts, our childrens lives are worth far more than the miserly £140k they say will be saved.”

County council spokeswoman Karen Bowles said: “We don’t want to take away school crossing patrols from schools where staff and parents want them and we are more than happy to train people and support and manage patrols carried out by volunteers or sponsored by local companies and organisations. But it is not feasible for the council to continue to fund the patrols that do not meet the criteria. If Cabinet decides to go forward with this recommendation on Tuesday, there will be a consultation with schools and members of the public and their views will be taken into account before a final decision is made.”