Report by James Franklin , Reporter
Thursday, June 14, 2012
PLANS to cut the number of school crossing patrols in North Somerset could be ‘gambling’ with children’s safety, it has been claimed.
Although North Somerset Council says 11 of the 15 patrols which could be scrapped are already vacant, the move has come under fire from opponents who say they are among the last things the authority should cut.
There are currently 41 road safety patrols across the district, but a report put together by officers from the council’s children and young people’s services department recommends the number be reduced to 26.
The report is due to be considered by the council’s children and young people’s services policy and scrutiny panel tonight (Thurs), where members are recommended to rubber stamp the proposals.
The authority says the move will allow it to save £31,898 by 2014, with the average annual cost of running a patrol put at £2,100 per year.
The report says the council ‘has a duty to review its use of public funds, and in making considerable savings difficult decisions have to be made’.
One of the four sites which currently has a patrol and could be cut is Gerard Road in central Weston, which is adjacent to Christ Church Primary School.
The other sites to be cut which currently have patrols are High Street by Yatton Junior School, Fosseway by St John the Evangelist Primary School in Clevedon and High Street by St Peter’s Primary School in Portishead.
Among the sites the council says are already vacant which will be scrapped are Worle High Street, near to Mendip Green First School, and Woodborough Road by Winscombe Primary School.
North Somerset councillor Mike Bell, whose ward includes Christ Church, said: “A lot of parents will be concerned about this – although the council needs to save money, these patrols should be one of the last things they look at.
“The one on Gerard Road in particular crosses a very busy road.
“The council says that a lot of these patrol sites are vacant, but that’s just because they haven’t filled them.
“It just seems extraordinary to me, as the cost of these patrols is peanuts at each site, so why is the council cutting them? Before we know it North Somerset could come back and cut the rest of them.”
Reg Garrett, whose six-year-old son Langdale is a pupil at Christ Church, said: “The kids need that crossing to get to Christ Church on the other side. If they cut that they are gambling the children’s safety away and I think that’s the biggest mistake.”