Norfolk’s lollipop patrols are saved after council drops cuts
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017
Campaigners are today celebrating after securing the future of almost 40 under-threat school crossing patrols in Norfolk.
The 38 crossings – out of a total of 96 around the county – first became at risk after a decision in 2014 to cut funding for lollipop patrols by £150,000 a year for two years.
But an outcry from parents, teachers and pupils, including 790 responses at public consultation, saw Norfolk County Council's children's services committee have a rethink – and they yesterday went back on the plans.
Campaigners now hope the victory will hold fast and have urged the council not to consider cuts in future budget deliberations.
At yesterday's meeting, pupils from Heacham Infant and Junior schools carried placards and banners outside County Hall, before putting their case to councillors in the meeting.
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Steffan Aquarone, who has campaigned against the changes, said: 'I really hope this is it for some time, but we should never rest on our laurels. The council has seen the reaction to these proposals and should have learnt from it.
'For now, we are absolutely delighted – in the grand scheme of things it's a fairly small amount of money.
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'What really matters is child safety. It's not about budgets or decision-making, it's about putting children first, which I think has now been done.'
Karen Cornish, a parent from Melton Constable, kickstarted the fight to save Astley Primary School crossing, which has been running since 1983.
She said: 'It is reassuring to know that the children of Astley will continue to be protected by our most excellent lollipop lady.'
During the meeting, vice-chairman of the committee, Shelagh Gurney, a former voluntary lollipop lady, put forward the proposal to leave the services alone.
She said: 'I think, for the savings of £150,000, this creates a lot of heartache for little savings. I propose that we do not proceed any further.'
The proposal was supported by all councillors except Brian Hannah, who said that while it was a small amount of money, 'we need every penny we can get'.
Positions that are left empty will still be reviewed by the council, according to current policy.
The approximate cost to run all 96 of the patrols in 2016 was £270,000 – £141,000 higher than the budget of £128,610.
The decision and financial implications, including the need to find the savings elsewhere, will be considered by the council's policy and resources committee next month, when they make budget recommendations to full council.
Norwich ring road school's joy
A campaigner leading the fight to save a lollipop crossing in Norwich has said that 'common sense has prevailed'.
Jo Phillips and fellow parents have been battling to save the lollipop lady at Colman Road Infant and Junior Schools since the possible cuts emerged last autumn.
She said they had been spurred on after a seven-year-old boy was injured crossing the road.
'We are completely over the moon,' she said.
'We thought there was a compelling case to save the crossing, but it's difficult to know how things will go.'
Looking to the future, she added: 'I hope they have realised how strong the level of opposition is, and that this is not a popular move.
'Revisiting it would cause even more anger and opposition.'
She said parents and teachers at the school believed their school, on the ring road, should never have been on the under-threat list in the first place.
'There's eight lanes of traffic in that area and ambulances coming past – anyone who just looked at the crossing would know it's not one for children to be using,' she said.
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