THE future of Dorset’s lollipop people has been discussed in the corridors of power.
Both Mid Dorset and North Poole Lib Dem MP Annette Brooke and South Dorset Tory MP Richard Drax spoke of the need to keep the patrols during an adjournment debate in Parliament.
Transport Minister Norman Baker praised the campaign in Dorset.
Mrs Brooke said schools, parish councils, and parent teacher associations could not afford to fill the funding gap.
She told how child pedestrian death rates in the UK are worse compared to 10 other EU countries.
She asked what obligations local authorities have to provide safe crossings, and talked about other negative effects of the cuts, including less children walking to school.
Mr Drax expressed concerns about cars flying down rural roads during rush hours when children are going to or coming from school.
He pointed out that patrols first appeared on Britain’s streets in 1954.
He said: “The benefits were crystal clear.
“It was never thought to make their employment compulsory.”
Mr Drax added that the Government had removed ringfencing on local authority grants to enable councils to set their own priorities.
“What was not expected was that those councils would downgrade the importance of road safety,” he said.
Mr Baker acknowledged that local authorities have a general duty under the Road Traffic Act to promote road safety and to take measures to prevent accidents.
He said both MPs were ‘eloquent and persuasive’ in their arguments and he paid tribute to the ‘much-loved’ lollipop men and women who he said played such a ‘crucial’ role.
Regarding Mrs Brooke’s speech, Mr Baker said: “She has put together a compelling case and I believe Dorset County Council will reflect very carefully indeed on her remarks and those of Mr Drax.”