E&E | Last-ditch attempt to save patrols

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25 February 2016

Last-ditch attempt to save patrols

By Anita Merritt

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Lollipop protest outside County Hall

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 john.hart@devon.gov.uk or call him on 01752 403554.

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E&E | Demonstrators plan protest ahead of final decision over future of Devon’s school lollipop patrollers

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15 February 2016

Demonstrators plan protest ahead of final decision over future of Devon’s school lollipop patrollers

A demonstration is being organised outside Exeter’s County Hall this week to coincide with when Devon County Council decide the fate of Devon’s school lollipop patrollers.

A group of parents, children and possibly lollipop patrollers are planning to stage a protest at 1.45pm on the steps outside the main entrance of County Hall ahead of a full council meeting this Thursday. Protestors will be wearing visibility jackets and holding lollipops.

It is being organised by mum-of-two Stella Cahill, from Stoke Hill, Exeter, who has been among a group of parents involved in the Save our School Lollipop Patrollers campaign.

Stella said: “The plan is to be there as the councillors go in for their meeting at 2.15pm.

“I have one child a Stoke Hill Junior School and my other goes to Stoke Hill Infant School. We did have two school crossing patrollers – one at a crossing between the schools and one down the roundabout near the schools. We now just have one by the schools. If that patroller is taken away too I think someone will get hurt because cars speed down the road and visibility is not good. You also get children from the juniors crossing by themselves to come over the infants to meet their parents and siblings.

“I don’t know how our school will fund it if the council decide not to. There is not a vast amount of money spare in anyone’s budget.”

Despite overwhelming opposition from the public, schools and councillors to cease funding school lollipop patrollers, the council’s cabinet approved the proposal at its meeting last week and it is now up to full council to give it the final go ahead.

The reason behind the cost cutting plans is to save £250,000 a year from the county council budget. Instead the cost will transfer to schools, with the patrollers themselves 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.

Andy Hannan, Devon County Councillor for Priory and St Leonard’s, said: “Labour councillors are proposing an amendment to the council budget to transfer £250,000 from members’ locality budgets, reducing them all from £10,000 to £6,000 each, in order to maintain DCC’s provision of school crossing patrols.

“In other words, we’re giving all councillors a chance to make a contribution from funds they have to support good causes in their own communities.”

For details of joining the protest on Thursday visit ‘save our crossing patrols protest’ on Facebook.