From next January Wandsworth Council will cut all funding for School Crossing Patrols (‘lollipop’ men and women), with schools asked to find alternate means to pay for them.
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 £70million 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.
"Virtually all young children are brought to school by their parents. 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.
"Only around a third of schools in the borough actually have a patroller. We are now discussing with these head teachers 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 and we will continue to make road safety improvements in the years ahead."
Sadiq Khan, local Labour MP, who is campaigning to improve road safety around local schools said:"Wandsworth have behaved appallingly on this issue - schools feel they haven't been consulted properly, parents and residents have had no opportunity to protest these changes, and now the Council has cynically shut opposition councillors out of the debate.
"This is the wrong move by Wandsworth Council - they should be working in co-operation with local schools, parents and councillors, not ignoring them. If the council wants community involvement then it needs to engage with the community.
"The truth is there has been no thought put into the wider issue of road safety and the impact these plans will have. Wandsworth Council will regret this decision.
“Nationally we’re seeing what happens when councils cut road safety spending – more people are killed and seriously injured on our roads. Wandsworth Council don’t want to follow the examples set by St Helens, Portsmouth, Stoke on Trent, Coventry and other councils who have cut spending on road safety and seen huge increases in the number of people killed or injured.
“The contribution school crossing patrols make to keeping children and families safe on the way to and from school is highly valued. These plans are out of touch with what parents and local residents want, and they seem ill-thought out.
“Schools with private funding will be able to pay for their own patrols, while the rest will be left without, or forced to rely on volunteers. Most local parents can’t afford to pay – why should their children’s lives be put at risk as a result?
“Wandsworth Council should scrap these plans – go back to the drawing board and work with local schools on proper plans to help keep the roads around them safe.”
July 14, 2012