Labour leader Ed Miliband lends support to lollipop campaign in Lowestoft

Answering tough questions on how Labour would run the country, Ed Miliband started off by giving his support to school crossing patrols when he visited Lowestoft.

The party leader tackled an array of topics as the election campaign rolled in to town yesterday afternoon.

He spoke with the local school crossing patrol workers who are fighting hard against Suffolk County Council's controversial decision to stop funding lollipop patrols and also took part in a question and answer session.

He backed the region's involvement in the growing energy sector and offered support to school crossing campaigners. All of Suffolk's crossing patrols will be axed by the county council if communities or local councils cannot step forward to take them over. Cutting their funding will save the authority �230,000 - about 5.1pc of the �4.5million it needs to save.

'I remember as a kid, my school was just around the corner and we'd benefit from the local lollipop ladies,' said Mr Miliband.

'They're part of the security and safety for parents; it gives them peace of mind.

'I'd urge the county council to look again at making the numbers add up. I know it's hard for them because it's coming from government cuts, but it's important.'

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At St Andrew's Church hall in the centre of Lowestoft, Mr Miliband fielded questions about the country's crippling deficit, the tripling of student fees, NHS reforms, the future of nuclear power and the ongoing battle to save Suffolk's threatened local libraries.

The minister, who last visited Lowestoft in 2008 as secretary of state for energy and climate change, recently campaigned in his own constituency to save libraries from closure.

Speaking yesterday he said they were just one layer of the fabric of Britain that needs to be saved.

'There are things that matter; things that aren't just about money which define the character of this country,' he said.

'We need to do more to protect those things.'

Before an invited audience – not all staunch Labour supporters, Mr Miliband described his party as the real alternative but admitted that winning public support was paramount if he is to be the next Prime Minister.

'We've got to re-invent ourselves, not just as a political party but to be more like a social movement' he said.

'I've not come here to say 'vote for Ed Miliband so he can be in power and pull all the levers'. Change comes from the people: people as a movement create change.'

Explaining his support for the Alternative Vote system, he said the referendum was an opportunity to change politics.

He said: 'It's about whether we carry on with politics as usual. I think most people are fed up with politics as usual. In certain areas their votes don't really count - I'm talking about safe seats. I think the alternative vote is a way to make more people's votes count.

'At the moment we've got parties fundamentally disagreeing with all other parties all the time. This could change that culture.

'I only wish this referendum was not on the same day as the local elections because I think it confuses people.'

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