SOUTH Dorset MP Richard Drax is pleading with the Tory-led county council to think again over the axing of Dorset’s lollipop pat-rols.
The Conservative MP waded into the debate as a campaign supported by parents and schools gathers pace.
Mr Drax’s Parliamentary colleague in West Dorset, Tory MP Oliver Letwin, has been more restrained with his comments and is resisting backing any campaign for the moment.
There are fears children’s lives will be put at risk by the Dorset County Council cost-cutting move to cut school crossing patrols.
The authority is hoping volunteers from the community will come forward to fill the shoes of lollipop people.
A final decision will be taken at a meeting on February 17.
In a letter to county council leader Angus Campbell, Mr Drax says: “I appreciate, as you do, that we face austere times and that cutbacks have to be made to live within our means.
“I understand you are saving about £200,000, which in the round is a relatively small amount of money.
“I appreciate the council does not have a statutory duty to finance lollipop ladies and that several other councils around the country have turned to parish councils, schools and charities to meet this requirement.
“Because I am instinctively uneasy at this proposal – which I understand will be discussed at full council next month – I am writing to ask you and your council to reconsider and to seek savings from another area instead.”
Mr Drax says he appreciates the move would be difficult for the council in the light of savings it has to make but adds: “I do think the safety of our children is paramount.”
Oliver Letwin said: “I have spoken to Dorset County Council and asked what analysis has been done to how children will be kept safe without these patrols and am waiting to hear back.
“My concern is whether children will be able to cross the roads safely.”
Lib Dem county councillor for Bridport Karl Wallace said it was crucial the authority found the £200,000 to fund the patrols ‘to protect our kids.’ He said although the council had no statutory obligation to provide the patrols it had a ‘duty of care’.
In response to the idea people from the community volunteer to do the work, Coun Wallace said: “David Cameron’s Big Society idea is all very well but in these tough financial times people with spare time on their hands want to do more paid work, they don’t have time to volunteer.”