Lollipop cuts fought

PUBLISHED: 13:00 22 June 2016

Parents and pupils petitioning outside the school.

Parents and pupils petitioning outside the school.

Archant

Parents have launched a petition to reverse ‘undermining’ council cuts which will leave crossing patrol staff at their children’s primary school, and others across the district, out of a job.

The lollipop lady at Bournville Primary School in Weston will see her ‘life-saving’ post axed when North Somerset Council halts funding for the crossing service at schools across the district in September.

Of the 26 schools where crossing patrols could be in place, just nine are currently staffed – meaning the saving for the whole area will be just £29,000 a year.

One school has already decided to take on the £4,400 annual cost itself, while another will be funded by the local parish council, but parents at Bournville are campaigning for the council to reverse its decision to cut the service altogether, calling it a ‘bridge too far’.

The petition joins another in Weston, launched by Christ Church Primary School parent Dave Cozens last month.

One of the new campaigners, mum Frances Laing, whose 10-year-old son attends Bournville, said ‘someone had to take a lead’ on fighting the cuts.

She told the Mercury: “There are at least 10 parents petitioning to keep the lollipop lady here. We are a national teaching school – we are a national leader in education.

“If you can’t even get the kids to school safely it makes a mockery of everything the school is trying to do.

“It is a bridge too far. The Government cannot pay lip service to standards in education and then try to undermine the vital services which help children to get to school safely.

“It’s the most important job of anyone in the school in some ways. I’ve seen her save lives and that won’t be there from September.”

The council has identified more than £8.5million of required savings in the coming financial year – and the move to end crossing patrol funding will make up less than half of one per cent of that total. It hopes to attract financing from businesses and parish councils to keep the service alive.

A council spokesman previously told the Mercury: “Schools and town and parish councils have been fully consulted on the proposals and offered the opportunity for their local community to contribute towards this valuable service.

“The new service, which is looking for financial support from local businesses alongside schools and town and parish councils, could enable local communities to pay for patrols both in areas designated to qualify for a school crossing patrol as well as on other sites where the parents, schools or other local groups feel there is a need.

“We would encourage businesses and groups willing to work with the council to deliver this service in a new way, to contact us as soon as possible.”

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