SCHOOL crossing patrols have been saved from the axe, after Staffordshire County Council revised its budget proposals before making a final decision next month. The authority will allocate the £1.4million funding required to provide crossing wardens at key points across the county. The council was considering moving to a community funded service as part of measures needed to close a £35m budget shortfall in 2019/20.
However, after a huge public outcry which parked petitions and protests, cabinet members decided “this is not the right time to pursue this option and therefore we will not be taking this any further at this time.”
Helen Fisher, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We all know crossing patrols do valued community work and it was clear from the consultations that members of the public hugely value the role their patrol plays in the community.
“We have listened and acted on what people have told us and although it will cost £1.4m per to continue to fund the service, we have taken the decision not to progress with these proposals and our patrols will continue as before to serve their communities.
“I would like to thank everybody who took the time to take part in the consultations and also parish councils and local businesses which stepped forward to offer a local community solution.
“I would also like to say a huge thank you to the school crossing patrols themselves for their continued hard work and their total professionalism during this unsettling time.”
The county council secured one-off additional funding for care and highways as part of the Local Government Finance Settlement and aims to deliver a balanced budget for next year.
An update on proposals will be presented to cabinet on January 30, before going to full council in February.
Leader of Staffordshire County Council, Philip Atkins, said: “We have faced unprecedented financial challenges, but after taking early, decisive action we have managed to close the gap and deliver a balanced budget.
“After successfully reducing our own running costs by £240m in the past nine years this has meant we faced making some tough decisions across all services.
“Together with our MPs we are continuing to lobby Government on the need for a long-term solution for the funding of care for rising numbers of vulnerable adults and children, but in the meantime, with less money to go around, we are being honest about what we can continue to fund.
“While councils can no longer do or fund everything they once liked to do, we remain hugely ambitious for the county and are committed to empowering communities to take a stronger role in delivering their own affordable solutions wherever possible.
“We will continue to support people helping people through our work with the voluntary sector and a revised Local Community Fund to help members support their local communities.”
Cheadle Town Council slammed the plans during a discussion last year, amid fears they would be asked to pick up the bill for the lollipop men and women.
Cheadle Town Mayor, Ian Plant, said: “I am pleased that Staffordshire County Council has seen that the views of the community do count for something with deciding not to take away all of the 248 crossing patrols in the county. This, I believe, is their recommendation to go before cabinet at their next meeting.
“It was very strange idea in the first place to put the lives of young people at risk to save money.
“Cheadle Town Council wrote to MP Bill Cash to put their views to the whole idea of the scheme and coupled with the thousands of other peoples’ concerns, made a difference.
“Schools, town and parish councils were asked to consider the take over of these roles but people already pay for the service so why should they have been asked to pay again?”
Jo Cane helped organise a protest against the cuts outside a Uttoxeter school. She said: “The people of Uttoxeter are extremely pleased to hear of this U-turn.
“This isn’t just good news for parents or schools, this was important to the children, they were confident and passionate in their fight to save their ‘lollipops’ and are over the moon that the road crossing staff will not be axed.
“Uttoxeter traffic is often very heavy and with new housing, new roads, JCB factories and the A50, our roads are getting busier.
“Staffordshire County Council have seen sense and the children in Uttoxeter should be really proud of themselves.”
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