THERE are fears that children’s lives will be at risk if plans to axe funding for school crossing guards get the go-ahead.
Members of Dorset County Council’s cabinet will discuss transferring responsibility for lollypop patrols over to school and community volunteers at a meeting today. But school governors say the cuts will endanger pupils’ lives and increase road congestion as more parents drive their children to school.
Helen Toft, a governor at Weymouth’s Holy Trinity Primary School, said: “As a governor and organiser of a walking bus scheme, I am very concerned at the callous way a decision can be made that will endanger the lives of those members of our community who are most at risk from road traffic accidents – children.
“Holy Trinity Primary School is sandwiched between two major roads and at present there are occasions when motorists are in too much of a hurry and do not stop when the crossing person steps into the road. If drivers can’t stop for an adult dressed in bright clothes what chance does a small child have?”
Kate Wheller, governor at Weymouth’s Conifers Primary School, said: “Our school is on a very busy road, so the idea of losing our crossing patrol is quite frightening. I see this as the thin end of the wedge. Once the crossing patrols go, what’s next?”
A support staff governor at Weymouth’s St Andrew’s Primary School, Sally Elsworth, said: “I run a walking bus to St Andrew’s School for 12 pupils aged between five and 11 every day. Losing the guards would be quite difficult for us. I think the upshot of this will be that there will be an accident and we will lose a child.”
Dorset County Council’s cabinet member for transport, Peter Finney, said: “The council is facing a severe budget reduction in the order of £48.6m over three years and all areas of the county council's services need to be scrutinised.
“School crossing patrols are a discretionary service provided by the county council. The proposal being put to the cabinet is that discussions are undertaken with communities to see if there are alternative funding options that could help the county council maintain the service. These will begin as soon as possible depending on members’ decision.”