North Devon’s schools facing the loss of their lollipop patrols from this autumn after council decision today (Friday

North Devon schools will have to pay for their own lollipop crossing patrols if they want them to continue.

Devon County Council’s cabinet decided today (Friday) to withdraw funding for the service and make savings of £250,000.

Councillors voted for a new system they said would enable the patrols to continue if schools paid for them.

They also approved the use of a third party company to manage the service on behalf of the schools.

The council said it would continue to provide essential support and training to ensure the service is delivered safely and to the appropriate standard.

The full council will vote on the cabinet’s decision next Thursday, but if it goes ahead, the changes could happen as early as the new school year this autumn.

‘Keep children safe’

Despite a unanimous vote by the cabinet, there was opposition at the meeting from councillors of different parties. Fremington’s independent County Councillor Frank Biederman said: “I am shocked and disappointed that they have carried on with these cuts, just as the Government it’s going to allot an extra £8million to the council this year.

“I thought they would have used that money to safeguard our crossings and keep our children safe.”

Barnstaple County Councillor Brian Greenslade said there was ‘simply no excuse’ for the cuts: “Our children are a priceless asset and their safety on the highway when they cross the road is vital,” he said.

“Also given DCC’s responsibility for safeguarding children the presence of a school crossing patrol officer is helpful to protect children from undesirable individuals, especially those children who have to make their way to and from school by themselves.”

There are 341 primary and secondary schools in Devon, currently with 102 school crossing patrol sites in the county, 11 of which are already funded by schools or which rely on volunteers.

The council said in cases where a school wouldn’t pay for a patrol, it would look at the site and how to limit any potential impact.

Government cuts

Councillor Stuart Hughes, cabinet member for highway management, blamed the £200m cut in spending since 2009 on the Government’s austerity measures.

“Unfortunately those services which we are not required to provide by law are most at risk as a result of the budget reductions from central Government,” he said.

“As a local highway authority Devon County Council has a statutory duty to promote road safety and prevent accidents. The protection of human life is one of the greatest responsibilities we bear and it is therefore very important we use what resources we have in the most effective way.

“Although this model would require schools to pay some of the costs, the county council would remain committed to supporting a crossing patrol service by providing training and quality assurance to ensure it is delivered safely.”