E&E | Last-ditch attempt to save patrols

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25 February 2016

Last-ditch attempt to save patrols

By Anita Merritt

12807425
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.

Parking on pavements at DCC Full Council

The issue of pavement parking was touched upon at  DCC’s Full Council meeting on 23 July 2015.

Under agenda item 7, Questions from Members of the Council to following exchange took place:

3. QUESTION FROM COUNCILLOR PROWSE

Re: Pavement Parking

I have previously made known my concerns regarding those who park their vehicles on the pavement throughout the County, thus causing us a bill for reinstatement of cracked slabs and other damage to the pavements. All pavement users are seriously inconvenienced. In the City of Exeter this is a specific offence (by-law). Since the start of Civil Parking undertaken since 5th May 2008 not one ticket has been issued. In the rest of the County there remains a total indifference to enforcement policy by the Police or the Civil Enforcement Officers where yellow line restrictions do not exist.

In a letter dated 9 April 2014, the Leader of the County Council indicated this matter would be subject of a report to Cabinet in the Autumn.

Can the Leader confirm that the report never arrived?

What is the current position of the County Council and Exeter City Council and the element of repeater signs in the City of Exeter to allow enforcement to take place?

REPLY BY COUNCILLOR HART

I share Cllr Prowse s concern about parking on pavements.

When we reviewed the position, it was not felt that a report was required to Cabinet as previously suggested as this matter has been taken up at a national level, through a proposed Pavement Parking Bill. Although, progress with this proposed legislation has been slow, I am pleased to inform Councillor Prowse that it is now moving forward through parliament with Simon Hoare MP taking up the reins following recent lobbying, to which Devon County Council contributed.

Government s stance on the matter of implementing pavement parking bans has not changed from that provided by the Traffic Team to Councillor Prowse last year. There is the ability to implement a ban, but only through the presence of repeater signs, which the Department for Transport have stated are to be placed at intervals felt appropriate by the highways authority. However, even with a frequency of repeater signs much higher than we would like this carriers significant risk, as we have been advised that any car parked without direct sight of such a sign is likely to have grounds for a Penalty Charge Notice to be overturned. In addition there is potential abortive costs of implementing such a scheme should the national bill be passed that does not require these signs.

For the short term, we have developed an advisory enforcement notice approach with Civil Enforcement Officers, a report it function for the public to help focus this advisory enforcement, and a publicity campaign. We are also driving for further guidance of best practise from national organisations such as PATROL (Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London).