Sunderland Lollipop Ladies Face Axe
A campaign has been launched to save school crossing patrols across Sunderland after it was revealed that they are set to be axed by the Council.
The Council wants to take away all the funding for lollipop men and women across the city.
Sunderland Council admits that vulnerable child pedestrians will be put at risk by the decision, but proposes to “continue despite negative implications”.
The plans would see most lollipop men and women axed, whilst the most dangerous roads could retain crossing patrols if they are staffed by volunteers or sponsored by businesses.
The proposals were approved by Cabinet in January, and are due to form part of the Council’s 2016/17 budget which will come into force in April.
Sunderland City Council says it needs to save £180 million between now and 2020.
Lib Dem campaigner for Millfield and Thornholme, Niall Hodson, has launched a campaign to save the school crossing patrols. He commented:
“I am shocked that councillors in charge of Sunderland Council have approved plans to axe all of the funding for lollipop men and women across the city.
“This appalling move is completely unacceptable and poses serious risks to the safety of young people walking to and from school every day.
“I’ve been speaking to parents of children at St Mary’s and Richard Avenue Primary Schools, and at Diamond Hall in Millfield. They are disgusted at the idea, and at the fact the Council hasn’t told them that this is what it is planning. That’s why I’m launching a campaign to let parents know about this proposal; Liberal Democrats on Wearside will be fighting it every step of the way.
“Sunderland Council is sitting on £189 million of ‘usable reserves’. Instead of putting children’s safety at risk, the Council should use some of this money to pay for school crossing patrols.”
Anthony Robson’s two daughters attend Diamond Hall Junior School in Millfield. Anthony said:
“If anything there needs to be more patrols not less. I’ve seen cars flying up and down Well Street at school run time at daft speeds without a care in the world. There’s no patrol now on Well Street and other spots in Millfield where accidents might happen. It’s a terrible idea to scrap lollipop patrols - in fact they need more and they need them in better locations too.”
Notes to editors:
Sunderland Council’s ‘Revenue Budget and Proposed Council Tax for 2016/2017’ document contains several “Proposals for Reductions 2016/2017” including scrapping school crossing patrols, axeing taxi marshalls, increasing bereavement fees and charges, and charging for pest control or scrapping the service entirely.
The Revenue Budget and Proposed Council Tax for 2016/2017 document is available here:
Section 3.19 of the document contains the plan for “Service redesign of the school crossing patrol operation”. It goes on to state:
The school crossing patrol service is non-statutory and the proposal is to reduce the service leading to a reduction in part-time school crossing patrol staff (SCP). This can be achieved by removing SCP provision at:
· Controlled crossing (Amber) sites (zebra / signals) where there are already alternative safe crossing facilities available.
· Sites of lesser importance, (Green), i.e. located on more minor highway routes with relatively lower existing traffic movements and, where the use of alternative traffic management measures and improved crossing facilities could be provided.
In addition to the above there are a number of high importance (Red) sites which are located on major highway routes or at priority locations. Provision would be unchanged but the service would work with schools and their surrounding communities to take up responsibility for this including businesses sponsoring school crossings. All of the above existing sites would require an updated risk assessment to be carried out prior to any decision being made.
All populations are affected by the proposal although the most vulnerable group, child pedestrians, will be most affected by the reduced service provision.
The document was approved by Sunderland’s Cabinet on 13th January and discussed by all 75 City Councillors on 27 January. Councillors are set to debate and vote on the Council’s Budget again before April 2016.
Minutes of the Cabinet meeting on 13th January are available here:
Cabinet members “RESOLVED that the provisional budget proposals be approved, as a basis for the continuation of budget consultation, prior to the receipt of the final Local Government Finance Settlement 2016/2017.”
Wearside Liberal Democrats obtained the following information about Sunderland Council’s ‘usable reserves’ via a Freedom of Information request:
Usable reserves levels for the last five years were: