Lollipop cash set to be cut

A zebra crossing at Farington Primary School
A zebra crossing at Farington Primary School
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Schools will be forced to pick up the bill for lollipop men and women - or scrap the service- if a County Hall cash-cutting plan goes ahead.

Lancashire County Council is hoping to shave £500,000 from its budget by giving schools £2,000 towards the cost of paying for crossing patrols.

However, the true cost of each lollipop man or woman is around £4,500 and schools will also have to add the patrols to their staff rolls.

Schools says they were not consulted about the proposal, being discussed today by the council, and fear the service - and safety- could be put in jeopardy. The decision to provide a school crossing patrol is currently based on whether a crossing point meets a national scoring mechanism. Where new crossing patrols are requested or where points become vacant, they are assessed and a decision made on whether to provide a new one or replace an existing one based on this criteria.

Under the new proposals, the county council wants to offer all 480 primary schools a grant of £2,000 a year towards the cost of providing a school crossing patrol and the criteria will be scrapped, leaving it up to the schools to decide if they want a patrol or not.

County Hall officials say the plan will save money and provide the opportunity for more patrols .

However, Howard Davidson chairman of governors at the 117-pupil Hoole St Michael’s CE Primary in Much Hoole, near Preston, said school budgets will suffer.

Mr Davidson, who has been a governor at the village school for 24 years said: “This will have a big impact on school budgets.

“Staffing costs are the main element of the budget and this could mean some schools setting a negative budget.

“The crossing patrol is a very integral part of our school, and others like us, and it is not just a question of having to find £2-2,500 but we will also become the employers with all the additional costs that entails and have to make sure we have backup.

At the moment county deals with all that and I have never known a time when he haven’t had cover.”

There are currently 394 crossing patrol staff employed by the county council, of whom 334 are at ‘fixed point’ patrols and the remainder are mobile, providing cover where there are vacancies or sickness.