South Tyneside school crossing patrols under threat

The school crossing patrol on Mortimer Road, South Shields.

The school crossing patrol on Mortimer Road, South Shields.

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School crossing patrols in South Tyneside could be at risk under plans to reduce costs.

School crossing patrols in South Tyneside could be at risk under plans to reduce costs.

South Tyneside Council has confirmed there is to be a review of the life-saving service - with a potential loss of jobs.

The news comes after the council’s cabinet agreed to introduce a £30 charge for the collection of green waste bins as of next year.

The council confirmed, yesterday, that the review into school crossing patrols is taking place.

One Labour source said: “We know the council has to save money but is it really worth our children’s lives? This is what it comes down to.

“Children should know how to cross a road safely, however, when you have a large number of children leaving the school gates at the same time when roads are busy and the view is often obscured by parked cars, taking away school crossing patrols is just creating a situation where an accident is just waiting to happen.

“Yes, a lot of parents drop and pick-up their children off in cars but there is still a lot who walk or cycle to school or travel independently. This service needs protecting.”

The review is one of a number being carried out into services provided by the council as part of cost cutting measures which includes centres providing provision for those with disabilities also at risk.

Opposition councillor Lee Hughes, Independent – Putting People First, said: “This news is disastrous. We’ve just managed to have a crossing patrol put in place on the Scotch estate following a campaign because of concerns with the roadworks going on and the increase in traffic and now the service is under review.

“I don’t think this news will go down well with parents.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “In line with all services across the council, we are reviewing our school crossing patrols to ensure they are effective, efficient and
value for money for our taxpayers.

“This will involve delivering a more flexible service to allow school patrol staff to move from places where measures to control traffic are already in place to areas of genuine need.”
Parents and grandparents picking children up at Mortimer Primary School in South Shields say the review has left them worried, and feel the school crossing patrol service is one which should be left alone.

There is currently a vacancy for a school crossing patrol officer at the school due to the retirement of the previous staff member which the council say are looking to fill “as quickly as possible.”

Grandfather Peter Gilmartin who was picking grandson Finlay Chapman, six, up from school, said: “There is that many cars, having the crossing patrol staff is essential around schools.
“This service is absolutely essential, if you don’t have it you are going to have children and families struggling to get across the road.”

Mum Jayne Considine agreed.

She said: “It would be a real shame if we were to lose them. They are needed outside of schools especially when you’ve got more than one little one. If they were being replaced with pelican crossings or something then I could sort of understand that, but it is a shame as it could be quite dangerous not having anyone here. It would be interesting to see what they would spend any money they save on.”

Dad Chris Walker said: “It’s an absolute nightmare crossing the road, the council should leave the service alone. They just want to keep cutting back and cutting back. If the crossing patrol isn’t there you are going to have kids who are just going to run out into the road the second they see a space. It’ll just make things even worse.”

Mum Helen Smith said: “The children come out at the busiest time on the road, they need to leave the service alone. I know they’ve got to save money but if they can’t find it elsewhere I wouldn’t mind paying an extra couple of pound every year to protect the service for the safety of the children.”