25 February 2016
Last-ditch attempt to save patrols
By Anita Merritt
An 11th hour bid to save Devon’s school crossing patrollers has been launched.
Parents, grandparents and anyone who wants to see the continuation of what is regarded as a vital and life-saving service in Devon, is being asked to contact councillor John Hart, the leader of Devon County Council, by phone or email before it is too late.
The Heart to Hart campaign has been launched by school crossing patroller campaigners and is being backed by Cllr Alan Connett, Liberal Democrat group leader on Devon County Council.
He said: “My call would be for every parent, grandma and grandad in Devon to email Cllr Hart and say they want to keep our school crossing patrollers.
“They can also contact their local conservative councillors as they are the ones who voted to cut the service.
“This is our 11th hour chance to save school crossing patrollers. When they’re gone they’re gone.”
Cllr Connett said he was concerned not much money would be saved if the council has to spend out on traffic islands or alternative safety management outside schools. He added he was also worried parents would no longer feel it was safe for their older children to walk to school which would increase traffic on Devon’s roads and impact on children’s health by being driven to school instead of walking.
“The decision is a false economy,” he said. “Labour put forward a different proposal, as did the Independents and Liberal Democrats. We could have found the money for it.”
At last week’s meeting, the majority of councillors voted in favour of Cllr Hart’s recommendation to approve the budget for 2016/17, which excluded funding for school lollipop patrollers. A further debate of the service will take place at the council’s scrutiny committee meeting on Monday, 07 March.
Overwhelming opposition from schools, councillors and the public – along with three petitions with one signed by more than 1,000 people – failed to sway the mind of Devon County Council in its mission to save £250,000 a year from its budget.
Under the new proposals, school patrollers will be employed by a third party that would deliver the service on a full-cost recovery or commercial basis.
If schools decide not to fund the cost of their patrol, the alternatives are for it to be run by volunteers or to lose the service.
To make sure the service continues to be delivered safely, the council says it is prepared to continue a degree of support such as establishing and monitoring quality standards, providing training and doing risk assessments.
Save our school lollipop patrollers campaigner Marie Leverett, a mum from Stoke Hill, Exeter, said: “I sincerely hope the County Council will reconsider it’s position at the scrutiny committee on 07 March, and take some time to think through the ramifications of this ludicrous budget cut in the short, medium and long term.”
At last week’s full council meeting, Cllr Hart said: “It’s not an easy decision to make but I think it’s the right decision for us to take.”
To join the Heart to Hart campaign, send an email to Cllr Hart asking to save Devon’s school lollipop patrollers at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 01752 403554.