Campaign saves school crossing patrols

The Northern Echo: Helen Winn with Skerne Park Primary pupils: Taylor Smith, six; Kelsey Wilson, five; Lucie Smith, ten; Ciar Kirby ten; Bailey Whitley, seven, and Savannah Whitley, four. Helen Winn with Skerne Park Primary pupils: Taylor Smith, six; Kelsey Wilson, five; Lucie Smith, ten; Ciar Kirby ten; Bailey Whitley, seven, and Savannah Whitley, four.

SCHOOL crossing patrols at risk of being axed in council budget cuts have been saved in a North-East town after a public outcry.

Darlington Borough Council announced yesterday that it would not be going ahead with a review of its lollipop patrols, a U-turn on proposals made last year to consider replacing paid staff with volunteers in an attempt to save £100,000 a year.

The leader of the council, Bill Dixon, said he was happy that the lollipop patrols could be saved, but warned residents that the proposed savings would now have to be found by making cuts to other services.

More than 6,100 angry parents, children and teachers wrote to the council about the proposals, and campaigners submitted a 1,300-signature petition, during a ten-week consultation period ahead of the final budget meeting on Thursday.

The decision to save the service has been welcomed by campaigners and opposition councillors, who said the Labour-led authority had seen sense over the unpopular proposals.

In other parts of the region, school crossing patrols, which do not have to be provided by law, have also been under review.

Middlesbrough Council said a review into its 38 crossings had been carried out as part of the budget process.

Lesley Jackson, safe and active transport manager for the authority, said: “We have proposed that in the coming year we will remove lunchtime crossing patrols from eight sites, which are underused.

“We will also remove 12 patrols that are based on pelican crossings, although this will be done over time as people retire, so there will be no redundancies.”

Durham County Council said there were no plans to cut any of its 194 school crossing sites, but said the service was regularly under review.

A spokeswoman for Stockton Borough Council said a review into its school crossing patrols had already been made to ensure that patrols were still necessary.

She added: “There will be a reduction in numbers as people retire and are not replaced.”

Lollipop staff in Darlington were told last week that the review into their service was being scrapped and that their jobs were secure.

The council had considered replacing paid staff with volunteers and making more use of traffic lights and pelican crossings.

Helen Winn, a lollipop lady who has patrolled outside Skerne Park Primary School for 21 years, said: “We are delighted at this news. Score one for the little people. I didn’t expect there would be such a big outcry from people, but it’s about the safety of kids at the end of the day.”

Coun Dixon said: “Due to the Government funding cuts, we are in a very tough financial position and having to make some very difficult choices about services.

“But, having listened to the concerns of parents and teachers throughout the borough, we have made the decision not to go ahead with the review of school crossing patrols.

“While I am delighted we have been able to make this decision for staff, parents and teachers, regretfully we are now in the position where we will have to look to other services to see if the necessary savings can be found.”

Councillor Heather Scott, leader of the Conservatives on Darlington council, said: “We are pleased that the council has seen sense on the crossing patrols in Darlington. It was not a sensible suggestion to start with.

“The budget process has been a bit of a mess and certainly the school crossing patrols were something the public felt strongly about.”

The council will debate its final budget at a meeting in the town hall on Thursday, at 6pm.

Comments (7)

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10:42am Tue 28 Feb 12

Lifetime Townie says...

The idea of axing school crossing patrols should never have been mentioned in the first place but it has taken a massive outcry from the public to knock some common sense into the council. No good blaming government cuts, just cut out the waste that we see every day at the council.
The idea of axing school crossing patrols should never have been mentioned in the first place but it has taken a massive outcry from the public to knock some common sense into the council. No good blaming government cuts, just cut out the waste that we see every day at the council. Lifetime Townie
  • Score: 0

1:59pm Tue 28 Feb 12

MST75 says...

What a great council leader Dixon is.....playing with Childrens lives.

Save the £100k by not claiming expenses. Simple enough I would say.
What a great council leader Dixon is.....playing with Childrens lives. Save the £100k by not claiming expenses. Simple enough I would say. MST75
  • Score: 0

8:05pm Tue 28 Feb 12

Spy Boy says...

It is beyond me to understand how this council could ever put forward such a stupid proposal in the first place. Then again, it is Darlington Borough Council we are talking about. A bunch of self centred, arrogant, short sighted and unimaginative failures. To quote Oliver Cromwell : “you have been sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!.”

Or, as Bogey may have said : "Of all the Town Halls in all the world, you had to walk into mine."

Are you getting the message yet ? We don't need you and we don't want you. Depart please.
It is beyond me to understand how this council could ever put forward such a stupid proposal in the first place. Then again, it is Darlington Borough Council we are talking about. A bunch of self centred, arrogant, short sighted and unimaginative failures. To quote Oliver Cromwell : “you have been sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!.” Or, as Bogey may have said : "Of all the Town Halls in all the world, you had to walk into mine." Are you getting the message yet ? We don't need you and we don't want you. Depart please. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

8:47pm Tue 28 Feb 12

swissball says...

talking about this stupid council have you seen the absolute debacle in Cleveland Avenue, which idiot thought of that? Have a look at the "new" road system next time your're near!!!!!!!!!!
talking about this stupid council have you seen the absolute debacle in Cleveland Avenue, which idiot thought of that? Have a look at the "new" road system next time your're near!!!!!!!!!! swissball
  • Score: 0

9:48pm Tue 28 Feb 12

harry2 says...

i bet they were never going to get rid of them and they just used it as tool to make people think they are the good guys

the worrying thing is alot of people will have fallen for it
i bet they were never going to get rid of them and they just used it as tool to make people think they are the good guys the worrying thing is alot of people will have fallen for it harry2
  • Score: 0

4:03pm Wed 29 Feb 12

mark.wilkinson says...

How typical of this council to target something like the lollipop ladies. They'd never dream of putting their own corrupt house in order first before slashing such a worthy service would they! It's always about making others suffer because of their inability to run a sound financial organisation. This lot should be sacked immediately. they are a disgusting bunch of self-serving thieves and unashamed by it.
How typical of this council to target something like the lollipop ladies. They'd never dream of putting their own corrupt house in order first before slashing such a worthy service would they! It's always about making others suffer because of their inability to run a sound financial organisation. This lot should be sacked immediately. they are a disgusting bunch of self-serving thieves and unashamed by it. mark.wilkinson
  • Score: 0

4:49pm Wed 29 Feb 12

Lifetime Townie says...

Harry2-- This well known scenario is sometimes called "lighting a fire to put it out"
Harry2-- This well known scenario is sometimes called "lighting a fire to put it out" Lifetime Townie
  • Score: 0

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