Wandsworth parents angry over proposals to cut School Crossing Patrol funding


Lollipop women and men could soon be a rarer sight in Wandsworth as the council will decide whether to stop funding the SCP service next week.


By Jasmin Leitner

Lollipop women and men could soon be a rarer sight in Wandsworth as the council will decide whether to stop funding the School Crossing Patrol (SCP) service next week.

If the decision goes through, then from January 2013, the 44 schools which currently benefit from the 36 SCP sites in the area would need to provide funding themselves.

The Finance and Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee endorsed the recommendations on Wednesday night after discussing a review of the SCP service.

Dorothy Thomas, a parent of two at Fircroft Primary School in Tooting, said: “I’m appalled the council is choosing to make cuts to a public service such as this one, instead of thinking a lot harder about other areas where they could make cuts.

“I’m kind of lost for words because it’s so frustrating. It’s a foolish, short-sighted and incredibly unintelligent move by the council.”

Wandsworth Living Streets secretary Robert Molteno said: “Our streets will become more congested around schools as more parents ferry their children to school by car.

“In the poorer parts of the borough where parents do not always have that option, only the future will tell whether more children are hit by moving vehicles.”

Mr Moreno added that at a previous meeting, members of the council, including leader Ravi Govindia, had said funding from the SCP service would not be cut.

A council spokesperson said: “As a result of the nation’s very difficult economic circumstances, the council is having to reduce its spending by £70million over four years.

“Decisions are having to be taken on a daily basis on how best to protect and safeguard the statutory frontline services that our residents rely on. Only around a third of schools in the borough actually have a patroller. 

“We are now discussing with these head teachers and school governors how they can best provide this service in future, if they wish to keep it. We are also encouraging parents and teachers to get involved. For those that do, we will provide all the necessary training, uniforms and equipment.”

Five Labour councillors have put forward a Stop Motion which requires the full council to debate the issue.

Voluntary staffing, PTA groups or external sponsorship are all suggested as options for schools that can’t fund the SCPs, although the review points to the difficulties of putting these into practise.

Despite receiving numerous petitions against this move the council argue they do not have a legal obligation to fund SCPs and that the responsibility for children’s safety on roads lies with parents.

The council spokesperson added: “The council recognises its wider road safety responsibilities and has an excellent record in delivering safety improvements to the borough’s road network.

“We have invested heavily in making the roads around our schools safer for children and their families and despite our difficult financial situation and we will continue to make road safety improvements in the years ahead.”

Figures from the council’s website highlight that in 2010 SCPs cost £199,460 per year (including recruitment, training and maintenance) and one road death cost approximately £1,790,203.

A full council debate and vote will take place on July 11th.

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