Schools will not be asked to fund their own crossing patrols, The Gazette can reveal, after headteachers branded plans to shift responsibility for lollipop men and women as “grossly unfair” and dangerous.
Lancashire County Council has announced the U-turn to its proposals after school bosses and even its own councillors blasted the idea.
It had been suggested that the £4,000 contribution to each of the primary school crossing patrols across Fylde and Wyre would be axed, to save around £1.5m annually from the authority’s dwindling budget.
Now the council head of finance has said schools will not be asked to fund the full cost of crossing patrols from their individual budgets and that there had been “confusion”.
County Coun David Borrow, deputy leader and finance portfolio holder, said: “It is not, and never has been, the cabinet’s intention to ask schools to fund the full cost of school crossing patrols from their own budgets.”
Council bosses have said there will be no change to provision from September 2015 but that a new proposal has been outlined for future years.
Jan Potter, headteacher of Ribby with Wrea Endowed CE Primary School said: “I am delighted to hear we have a reprieve of a year, although we need to make concerted efforts to plan for the future safety of the children who will still need protection when crossing the road next year.”
And Paul Eaton, headteacher of Sacred Heart Primary School in Thornton, said: “We are relieved funding will still be in place in some format, and hopefully in the future the council will not to look to save money by jeopardising children’s safety.”
The council’s current policy, agreed in February 2014 but not yet been implemented, is that schools will receive a grant from the council towards the cost of school crossing patrols, and that the county council would continue to provide the school crossing patrol service.
But Coun Borrow said an alternative proposal was discussed, that would see the funding come from the central resources available to schools, a suggestion that is subject to consultation.
He said that these proposals are to be “properly considered”.
He added: “I will be recommending, at a full council meeting on Thursday, that there is no change in the current position in 2015/16.”
Opposition party county councillors said the “U-turn” was thanks to public pressure.
County Coun Fabian Craig-Wilson, ward councillor St Annes South, said: “I think the council have performed a U-turn, they are suddenly realising how important lollipop ladies and men are to the people of Lancashire.
“Funding has got to be in place not just next year, not just for two years but indefinitely – childrens’ lives are too important.”
And Lytham ward Coun Tim Ashton added: “I’m very grateful they have listened to us as they were asking schools to choose between the education and the safety of their pupils.”