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.
At last night’s meeting of Wandsworth Council Tory councillors voted down an amendment by Labour councillors that would have saved the school crossing patrols, and likewise denied representations by Labour’s Cllr James Daley to commit to ensuring no funding would be axed for any individual school until such time as replacement funding for patrols was in place.
Labour councillors, parents and campaigners were also left deeply disappointed by the decision taken by Tory councillors to deny the chance to debate cuts to School Crossing Patrols by foreclosing the Council meeting.
Cllr James Daley said, “Rather than working with communities and schools to find ways of ensuring that our children are safe on their journeys to school, the Tories voted to wash their hands of all responsibility for school crossing patrols, and committed to a withdrawal of funding in less than six months time.
“There are limited ways for schools to raise the funds, and the risk is that School Crossing Patrols will simply be forced to stop. This poses a real threat to the safety of school children across the borough.”
Cllr Sheila Boswell said, “The Tories cut funding for ‘lollipop people’ without even allowing the concerns of local residents, parents and opposition Councillors to be heard. They have shown where their true priorities lie, and it isn’t with the borough’s children. This decision is totally out of touch with what people across this borough want.”
Sadiq Khan 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.”