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What’s happened to the school crossing lollipops?

February 13, 2018 2:00 PM

Birmingham's Labour leadership has been accused of making false promises when it said it was saving school crossing patrols two years ago.

New figures show a reduction of more than 20% in school crossing patrols in the city in the last three years.

Two years ago, in a carefully worded statement, the present council leader Cllr Ian Ward promised to retain 190 patrols in the busiest locations in the city, leading to headlines that patrols had been "saved."

At the time Liberal Democrats raised concerns that a proposed budget cut of 0.5m stayed in the city budget - in spite of the promise. Another £381,000 was taken out of this budget last year.

The latest figures, obtained by Cllr Sue Anderson, show the number has now fallen to 178.

Even the statement that patrols are being funded on the "highest priority sites" has been called into question.

Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Jon Hunt pointed out the disappearance of a crossing patrol on Rocky Lane, Perry Barr, not seen for about two years. The patrol was on a zebra crossing, not a pelican crossing, just off a congested roundabout close to Dorrington Academy.

It is clear that patrols are being removed "by stealth" as posts are not filled when lollipop staff leave.

Cllr Hunt said: "The proposal to axe crossing patrols was highly controversial two years ago. What these figures show is that in fact 27 had been axed in the 12 months beforehand and another 22 since then.

"The promise was made in response to a budget consultation. Residents might think that promises such as Cllr Ian Ward made are not worth the paper they are written on - if cuts are implemented by stealth.

"I can point to a disappearing crossing patrol in my ward and the concern it raises about children's safety - and also about the pressing need to encourage children and parents to walk to this particular congested school premises."