Schools told to fund crossings

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School bosses have moved to reassure parents school crossing patrols will not be lost if a cost cutting plan goes ahead.

Schools in Fylde and Wyre could be forced to pick up the bill for lollipop men and women, or scrap the service, if a proposal is approved.

Lancashire County Council is hoping to shave £500,000 from its’ budget by giving schools £2,000 towards the cost of paying for crossing patrols.

But the true cost of each lollipop man or woman is around £4,500 and schools will also have to add the patrols to their staff rolls.

Headteachers said safety will continue to be a key priority though.

Peter Hyland, headteacher at Poulton St Chad’s CE Primary School, on Hardhorn Road, said: “When I heard, I thought it was disgraceful - we need them enhancing, not put in jeopardy. Crossing patrols are vital. We will do what we’ve got to do, regardless of cost.

“It always is at the expense of something else though. We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul.

“I do sympathise with cuts but everyone’s got to fight their corner and when you’re talking safety it needs to come a lot higher up the agenda.”

The decision to provide a school crossing patrol is currently based on whether a crossing point meets a national scoring mechanism.

Where new crossing patrols are requested or where points become vacant, they are assessed and a decision made on whether to provide a new one or replace an existing one based on this criteria.

Road safety campaigners have stressed the importance of the service for both children and road users.

Terry Godbert, vice chairman of Blackpool and Fylde Advanced Motorists, said: “They’re vital to schools and I do think they’re a cost worth covering.”

Under the new proposals, the county council wants to offer all 480 primary schools a grant of £2,000 a year towards the cost of providing a school crossing patrol and the criteria will be scrapped, leaving it up to the schools to decide if they want a patrol or not.

County Hall officials say the plan will save money and provide the opportunity for more patrols.

There are currently 394 crossing patrol staff employed by the county council, 334 are at ‘fixed point’ patrols and the remainder are mobile, providing cover where there are vacancies or sickness.