Anger at school crossing patrol payment plan

FEE? Schools and academies would have to pay if they want the service.
FEE? Schools and academies would have to pay if they want the service.

Angry readers have hit out at a plan to make schools pay for their own crossing patrols, fearing children’s lives could be put at risk.

Wakefield Council said last week that budget cuts of more than £146m meant it could no longer provide patrollers for free and put forward a proposal to charge schools and academies to cover the costs.

The announcement was greeted with ‘disgust’ by Express readers, who condemned the plans over safety concerns.

Tomas Clayton said: “Short sighted as usual. Children and teens getting knocked over costs much more than crossing patrol and affects many more services.”

Julie Wilkinson wrote: “Disgusting, putting children at risk yet again.” Shelley Howarth branded the proposals as “ridiculous”, writing: “This is kids lives they are messing with.”

And Hayley Tansley added: “Children’s safety comes at a cost- a price that the council aren’t willing to pay.”

Their concerns were echoed by Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, who is urging schools to object to the proposal. She said: “It is worrying that government cuts have forced Wakefield Council to propose charging for lollipop men and women.

“This will add further pressure on schools, already hit by cuts to their maintenance budgets and higher national insurance and pension contributions. Schools will struggle to raise the funds to pay for patrollers, meaning road safety will become a postcode lottery.”

Russell MacNair, a member of the Wakefield Association of School Governors, described the plan as “short-sighted”.

He added it came at a time when schools were facing “severe pressures” and “squeezed” budgets.

He said: “We do not feel this is a cost that should be carried by the school, it is a community cost.”

Mr MacNair, who is also the Chair of Governors at Crofton Infants and the Director of Waterton Multi-Academy Trust, raised further concerns that the lack of crossing patrols could lead more people to drive to school.

He said: “We believe that no appreciation has been given to the potential increase in vehicle traffic that will be created as a result of removal of the patrol.

“This will no doubt exacerbate the traffic and parking issues experienced by not only parents but also commuters and residents.”

Wakefield Council, which said it currently spends £200k per year on providing school crossing patrols, has launched a consultation on the proposal.

Neil Rodgers, service director for planning, transportation and highways said: “We fully appreciate the importance of school crossing patrollers in our community and this is a service we want to continue.

“However, huge cuts to our budget mean we have to make some very tough decisions and in this case look how we can do things differently.

“Many councils have stopped this service altogether but we are trying to find a way to ensure it continues in Wakefield.”

Although the council has no statutory responsibility to provide the service, in law schools cannot independently employ a school crossing patroller.

Share your views by emailing roadsafety@wakefield.gov.uk until January 12.