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Burntwood councillors warn school crossing patrols are an “essential service” as review could see them axed

Councillors have warned lollipop men and women are an “essential service” that should not be considered as part of a plan to save £35million.

Staffordshire County Council is proposing a review of the school crossing patrol service with a view to the posts being community-funded.

It is part of a raft of measures being looked at to bridge the funding gap caused by a reduction in the money received from the Government.

But Labour councillors in Burntwood say the county council must not put the safety of young people at risk.

Cllr Rob Birch

Cllr Rob Birch

Cllr Rob Birch, from Burntwood Town Council, said: “We understand that the continuing cuts to funding from Government mean that there is less money to spend on public services – but the removal of school crossing patrols is a step too far.

“This service is not an optional extra but an essential service that ensures the safety of our children and grandchildren as they journey to and from school. The loss or serious injury of a child in a road traffic collision is unthinkable, but this is a very real possibility as a result of these cuts.”

The first ever school crossing guard appeared in the UK in 1937, with a wider rollout across the uk in the 1950s and 60s.

Cllr Birch believes the role of lollipop men and women is more necessary than ever.

“The increase in road traffic over recent years cannot have gone unnoticed by anyone on the council and as traffic increases so does the risk of collisions on the roads,” he said.

“At the last meeting of the council we heard from the Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership on the importance of the Community Speedwatch groups around Burntwood. The police and local community are recognising the increasing dangers on our roads and sponsoring such groups at the same time as the county council are removing an essential road safety service.

“We do not believe that it is right to sit by and let these cuts take place, which see the children in Burntwood being put at risk.”

The Labour group is now calling on Burntwood Town Council to lobby Staffordshire County Council in a bid to ensure funding for the service is not cut.

“Should such representations be unsuccessful, Burntwood Town Council should make funds available and steps in to fund this essential service to our local community,” Cllr Birch said.

Cllr Philip Atkins. Pic: M Holland

Cllr Philip Atkins. Pic: M Holland

Cllr Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, said the authority was facing “difficult decisions” as it seeks to balance the books.

“We have to deal with a most pressing financial challenge of how we can continue to meet the increasing costs of adult social care and children’s care with less money year on year,” he explained.

“We have already reduced our own running costs by £240million in the last nine years, and the reality is that without urgent additional national funding, we face some extremely difficult decisions in order to meet our legal duty to deliver a balanced budget next year.

“Our proposals mean we will still do more to support Staffordshire people than we are legally obliged to, but we want to be honest and open with people about the reality we may all face if the level of funding we need is not achieved.”

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4 Comments

  1. AgitatorofPeople

    19th September, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    Councillor Philip Atkins needs to get off of his arse and stand with a crossing patrol, outside King Edwards on Upper St Johns street, where adult pedestrians have already been killed near the Zebra crossing and then have him tell the children and parents ” we still do more to support Staffordshire people than we are legally obliged to”. Here is an eye opener for you Cllr Atkins and the rest of your Conservative councillors who may think this is a great money saver:

    Legally there are four elements in a “Negligence” case, I have replaced the word “defendant” with “council” for ease of comprehension, these comprise as so:

    1. Duty: the Council has a duty to others, including the plaintiff, to exercise reasonable care.
    2. Breach: the Council breaches that duty through an act or culpable omission.
    3. Damages: as a result of that act or omission, the plaintiff suffers an injury.
    4. Causation: the injury to the plaintiff is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the Councils act or omission.

    As the council has a public duty to others and has historically provided a school crossing patrol as a safety measure and then knowingly withdraws it, which then results in a preventable injury or death to a school child, they are leaving themselves wide open to substantial legal action.

    Just a quick google search chucked up a UK DOT government report that 72% of all children killed or seriously injured as pedestrians coincided with weekdays and travel to school times.

    Philip Atkins, get a bloody grip man, possibly the stupidest and most dangerous decision from SCC to date.

    And people get irate about brown bin charges………

  2. Leigh Geary

    19th September, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    So, kids have to walk to school, past un-cut verges with 4-feet high weeds and then gamble by crossing roads without help amongst idiotic parking on junctions, double-yellows and hash-markings.

    Personally I think local councils need to shut up shop soon because there’ll be nothing left for them to do.

    Did they not think to ask us if we’d pay an extra 5p a year in council tax to pay for our local lollipop person?!

  3. A-Level Law Student

    20th September, 2018 at 11:38 am

    @Agitator, Unfortunately your reading of Wikipedia wasn’t quite sufficient.

    A “Duty of Care” arises where there is

    – Reasonable foresight of harm
    – Sufficient proximity of relationship between the two parties
    – it is fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty of care.

    While harm might be reasonably foreseeable, the County isn’t legally responsible for the children walking safely to school (Parents/Guardians are, shocking, I know), so no such proximity of relationship automatically exists.

    Even if proximity of relationship did exist; the “public policy” argument would preclude any duty of care arising. By imposing a duty of care on a Local Authority to ensure all children’s journeys to school were safe, you would bankrupt all LA’s overnight.

  4. AgitatorofPeople

    21st September, 2018 at 9:59 am

    A-Level Law Student, if a child is killed on a road previously manned by a council funded crossing patrol, which had then been removed because of a cost cutting exercise, they would not be liable in a shape or form? I think an inquest by a coroner would find that it could have been a preventable death had a crossing patrol still been in operation. Public opinion could also play a part in the perception held of the council and its requirements in such incidence.
    Either way, the council does not come out of this well, endangering children to save money for a political ideology, and with the current blame claim lawyer culture, it would tick the boxes for legal action.

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