Concerns raised about the future of Norfolk lollipop patrols as county council consults on cutting funding

A lollipop patrol. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

A lollipop patrol. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Parents governors have raised fears that proposals to cut council funding will put lollipop men and women at risk.

Norfolk County Council is consulting on cutting money for its 114 school crossing patrols, saving £300,000 by 2016-16. The plan aims to help plug the council's projected £189 million funding shortfall over the next three years.

The council said it is consulting on four alternatives to ensure the patrol officers' future: community groups and town and parish councils paying for them, volunteers running them, businesses sponsoring them, or schools paying for them.

Speaking at yesterday's Children's Services Overview Panel meeting, parent governor representatives Kirsty Byrne and Sara Vertigan told the panel about their concerns.

Dr Byrne said she went to see patrols at two secondary schools this week.

She said: 'The school patrol officers are indispensable. They know the children. This shows in how they respond to the children and I would say that is quite hard to replace.'

She added that at Framingham Earl High School, the patrol is already run by a community group and police community support officers, and the service was already 'stretched'.

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Mrs Vertigan said it would be very difficult to get children to school safely without the lollipop men and women.

Responding, council officer Owen Jenkins said: 'There are different solutions out there already. It shows how this proposal will work. There is pressure on the groups but there are other groups. We can work with parents' groups and local councils. There are groups that can help.'

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Dr Byrne also raised concerns that plans to almost double the cost of transport passes for college students would hit rural students particularly hard.

Cabinet member for schools Mick Castle said: 'All I can say is it's a genuine consultation and when there are innovative ideas coming forward we will look at them. We don't want to be doing all this stuff. It's a necessity.'

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