Huntingdonshire rallies behind ‘lollipop ladies’ as service faces uncertain future

School crossing patrols face threat of funding cuts.

School crossing patrols face threat of funding cuts. - Credit: Archant

A groundswell of public support is gathering for the area’s ‘lollipop ladies’ – as crossing patrols are fondly known – after schools received letters last week outlining proposals to axe cash for the service.

Cambridgeshire County Council has written to schools, setting out proposals to withdraw the service to save £171,000 and has asked headteachers if they would be willing to consider funding the £3,500 annual cost themselves. The county council has also written to all 49 school crossing staff in the county to make them aware of the proposals.

In response to the news, a petition has been launched in Huntingdon to save the ‘lollipop lady’ at Stukeley Meadows Primary School where there are concerns about child safety.

The lollipop lady patrols Wertheim Way, which is the main access road into the Stukeley Meadows estate.

School governor Matt Casey told The Hunts Post that parents and governors considered the possible removal of the service to be a safeguarding issue and were exploring ways of retaining the patrol.

“This is a busy road and there have been instances of drivers not stopping or slowing down and we have some real concerns for our children and also other members of the community who may struggle to cross. We all have a responsibility to ensure our children can get to and from school safely and while that may not necessarily come under the remit of the school, our parents want to explore how we can keep our lollipop lady.

“While we understand the county council needs to save money, anything that compromises child safety should not be part of any budget cuts.”

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In a statement, a spokesman for the county council, said: “Part of our budget planning proposals for 2016/17 include proposals to withdraw funding for the school crossing patrol service.

“But these are only proposals, and are currently part of a wide-ranging consultation.

“A final decision will not be made until the full county council meets next February.”

The proposals include cutting subsidies for school travel for those over 16, reducing provision for those with learning disabilities, cutting the mobile library service and cutting bus subsidies.

Council leader Steve Count, said: “The county council and Cambridgeshire communities are facing a massive funding challenge and the savings that will have to be made affects all of our residents.

“We are already making tough decisions and with millions of pounds fewer in the budget this can only get worse, as Government grants dwindle further.

“We have already reduced staff, shared services and made considerable savings.

“We know we can do more but we have reached a tipping point where frontline services will be further affected.”