Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Lollipop workers axed to save £200k

Lollilop men and ladies in west London are facing the axe under council proposals

A local authority has decided to end school crossing patrols, threatening the jobs of lollipop ladies and men, in a move it said will save £200,000 a year.

Tory-controlled Wandsworth council in west London said virtually all young children were now taken to school by their parents.

The GMB union, which represents the workers, attacked the decision and accused the council of threatening the safety of children.

A council spokesman said: "As a result of the nation's very difficult economic circumstances, the council is having to reduce its spending by more than £70 million over four years. Decisions are having to be taken on a daily basis on how best to protect and safeguard the statutory frontline services that our residents rely on.

"Parents simply don't allow small children to make this journey on their own, especially if it involves crossing roads. Older children cross roads that do not have patrollers perfectly safely every day and many of these roads are busier than those with patrols."

The spokesman said only a third of schools in the borough had a patroller, adding: "We are now discussing with these headteachers and school governors how they can best provide this service in future, if they wish to keep it. We are also encouraging parents and teachers to get involved. For those that do, we will provide all the necessary training, uniforms and equipment.

"At a time when statutory town hall services are facing severe budget constraints, it is only fair that schools which benefit from this service are asked if they are prepared to pay for it.

"The council recognises its wider road safety responsibilities and has an excellent record in delivering safety improvements to the borough's road network. We have invested heavily in making the roads around our schools safer for children and their families and despite our difficult financial situation we will continue to make road safety improvements in the years ahead."

Paul Maloney, national officer of the GMB, said: "This is a disgrace. David Cameron said frontline services would not be cut but there are few more frontline than lollipop staff stopping children being knocked down on the roads. Tory Wandsworth is always first with cuts like this as the Tories there have not changed from being the nasty party."

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "This measure will be a step too far for schools. Schools can't just magic up money to pay for such a service, especially as their own budgets have already been cut. The safety of young children going to and from school should surely be a consideration and priority for the local authority."

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