HERTFORDSHIRE County Council has been criticised for agreeing to withdraw funding from 17 school crossing patrols across the county.
Liberal Democrats at County Hall have blasted the council after it passed a money-saving scheme to cut the number of patrols – better known as lollipop men or lollipop ladies – from 157 to 140.
Under the proposals, the 17 sites would have their funding removed once the current patrol member either retired or left the post – saving around £63,900.
The council has agreed to help those schools affected find alternative funding, or recruit volunteers.
The plans were agreed at a full council meeting last Tuesday, despite appeals by opposition members.
Now WGC Liberal Democrat councillor Malcolm Cowan has branded the move “one of the daftest decisions I have seen the ruling Tory group make”.
“It is just to save money without thinking through the possible consequences,” he said.
“The amount of saving is so trivial it is hardly worth the effort. It puts children at risk and will make some parents wonder if they want their children to walk to school.
“This is a dark day for Hertfordshire.”
The proposals currently affect just one school in Times Territory – Our Lady’s Roman Catholic School in WGC.
However, children and parents at the Woodhall Lane school need not worry just yet.
School patrol Chrissy Trueblood has only been in the post for three years – and has no plans to leave any time soon.
“I enjoy my job and I’ve no plans to leave at the moment,” said Chrissy, 37.
Cllr Stuart Pile, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Hertfordshire County Council prioritises road safety and we currently go well beyond the nationally recommended level for the provision of a school crossing patrol at nearly one-third of the county’s primary schools.
“Under the new proposals, we will continue to exceed this national recommendation, which is based on number of people crossing at a site and current traffic volumes.
“If a site becomes vacant, for whatever reason, we would automatically reassess the site to see if it meets this lower level, and only if it does not meet this level will we consider withdrawing funding.”