Disbelief at Sunderland City Council bid to axe lollipop patrols to save cash

Lib Dem campaigner Niall Hodson at the site of the school crossing patrol at the junction on Tunstall Road and Thornhill Terrace, outside St Anthonys School.
Lib Dem campaigner Niall Hodson at the site of the school crossing patrol at the junction on Tunstall Road and Thornhill Terrace, outside St Anthonys School.
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A campaign has been launched after Sunderland City Council launched a bid to reduce lollipop patrols in the city.

The move to cancel funding forms part of the budget proposals for the coming financial year which will be voted on by the full council next month.

A campaign has now been launched to save the patrols, which, it is claimed, could see vulnerable child pedestrians put at risk.

The plans would see most lollipop men and women axed, whilst the most dangerous roads could retain crossing patrols if they are staffed by volunteers or sponsored by businesses.

The proposals were approved by cabinet in January, and will form part of the Council’s 2016/17 budget which will come into force in April.

Sunderland City Council says it needs to save £180 million between now and 2020.

Lib Dem campaigner for Millfield and Thornholme, Niall Hodson, said: “I am shocked that councillors in charge of Sunderland Council have approved plans to axe all of the funding for lollipop men and women across the city.

“This appalling move is completely unacceptable and poses serious risks to the safety of young people walking to and from school every day.

“I’ve been speaking to parents of children at St Mary’s and Richard Avenue Primary Schools, and at Diamond Hall in Millfield.

"They are disgusted at the idea, and at the fact the Council hasn’t told them that this is what it is planning. That’s why I’m launching a campaign to let parents know about this proposal; Liberal Democrats on Wearside will be fighting it every step of the way.

“Sunderland Council is sitting on £189 million of ‘usable reserves’. Instead of putting children’s safety at risk, the Council should use some of this money to pay for school crossing patrols.”

Anthony Robson’s two daughters attend Diamond Hall Junior School in Millfield.

He said: “If anything there needs to be more patrols not less. I’ve seen cars flying up and down Well Street at school run time at daft speeds without a care in the world. There’s no patrol now on Well Street and other spots in Millfield where accidents might happen. It’s a terrible idea to scrap lollipop patrols - in fact they need more and they need them in better locations too.”

Portfolio Holder for City Services, Coun Michael Mordey, said: “The report to Cabinet clearly sets out proposals for new road safety arrangements which could see a reduction in school cross patrols. There is no mention of removing them entirely, and to suggest otherwise is misleading, inaccurate and not helpful to the consultation process.

“The council is continuing to review, re-model and re-design its services because of Government funding cuts and spending pressures.

“Despite protecting people from the worst of the spending cuts over the last six years, it is inevitable that people are going to feel and notice changes to the services the council provides because of the cuts the council needs to make.

“While we've been consulting with the public on what they also see as priorities, there is no getting away from tougher and harder decisions because of the sustained reductions in Government funding.

“The council has cut £207m from its budget as a result of Government funding cuts and spending pressures in the last six years. The council is faced with the need to make further cuts of potentially £115m by 2020. For 2016/2017, the council must reduce its spending by more than £46m.

“The council’s budget is decided on Wednesday, March 2.”