School patrols ‘not at risk’

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Further to your article ‘Don’t take away our lollipops’ about the Borough’s school crossing patrols published on Friday, 9 September, I wanted to provide some reassurance and clarity to your readers.

Firstly let me assure your readers that school crossing patrols are not at risk as stated in your article. We recognise the huge contribution that our staff in this area do and understand that parents highly value the vital role they play in keeping our young people safe when crossing the road to and from school.

In fact, we are currently in the process of recruiting a further 13 new patrols across the Borough.

However, in this financially challenging climate, we do need to review all our services to ensure they are effective, efficient and value for money for taxpayers. Due to unprecedented funding cuts from central government, we must work within the constraints of our budget. We simply cannot continue to provide the status quo when Government have reduced their grant to the council by 45% with further reductions planned. The cuts from central government will undoubtedly take their toll although we are doing our absolute best to minimise the impact of them.

By delivering a more flexible service, we can put patrols where they are needed. This may, for example, see patrols moved from sites where there are already other safety measures such as pelican crossings in place, to locations with greater need.

However, let me stress that we take our moral responsibility regarding the safety of our young people extremely seriously and will make every effort to ensure they can cross the roads safely to and from school.

In addition, I would also like to remind your readers of the extensive work we do in our schools and children centres to help prepare our young people for crossing and cycling on our roads. Our work in this area is a key strength and one which we will continue to deliver in partnership with our school crossing patrols service to keep our young people safe on the roads.

Councillor Moira Smith