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.

#SWExeter Masterplan

The Comment section of the print edition of Express & Echo this week has an interesting article by Juliet Meadowcroft, Chair of Alphington Village Forum, New homes will destroy landscape. [Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear anywhere on E&E website!, but it is on Alphington Village Forum page].

E&E Comment | New homes will destroy landscape
E&E Comment | New homes will destroy landscape

Juliet’s Comment piece was written in response to an earlier E&E news item, New ‘city village’ will bring traffic chaos, says councillor [E&E Print edition, 04 June 2015], quoting Cllr Alan Connett.

In her article, Juliet makes reference to the LDA Design Masterplan for SW Exeter, a lengthy document published in 2012 whose purpose is to provide a framework to guide the future development of a sustainable urban extension to the south west of the City.

Juliet points out that the original masterplan showed “plenty of green space being left to the north of A379, including space for a primary school, but this has now all been changed”

SW Exeter Masterplan showing green
SW Exeter Masterplan showing green space on boundary between Exeter City Council and Teignbridge District Council areas

But that’s the problem with ALL masterplanning exercises – it’s a virtual jigsaw puzzle to show what could happen, rather than what would (or will) happen!

It’s a point made in the SW Exeter Masterplan itself:

7.0 Illustrative Masterplan
The illustrative masterplan is a tool to communicate how the application of the masterplan study could shape development in the growth area; it is not a detailed layout that responds to every aspect of the growth area in detail – it is simply to give an impression of how the area could be when developed. It shows one possible outcome of the application of the framework plans – other outcomes may be equally valid provided that the fundamental framework principles are adhered to.

As parts of the growth area come forward for development, individual masterplans or framework plans will need to be produced, reflecting the principles set out by the framework plans. As development is designed and takes place it will inevitably  evolve from that illustrated here to reflect the requirements, best practice, and market forces of the time. However, as long as development is guided by the masterplan frameworks, it should most importantly be deliverable and produce a sustainable and successful urban extentson.

Since the SW Masterplan was published [in 2011], more work has been carried out resulting in 2 documents published in 2014:
ECC – SW Alphington Development Brief; and
TDC – SW Exeter Development Framework
and these will plot the course of future development of SW Exeter.

One of the most serious aspects of development for SW Exeter revolves around transport issues.

Section 2.9 looks at current access and movement through SW Exeter, while Section 6.2 looks at the future access and movement framework.

While 6.2 sets out what is needed, the proposals were set out in less austere times, and there was the hope that there would be no problem in funding these requirements. My fear is that under the current funding regime, although the need is the same, the required funds will not be forthcoming.