Crossing patrol cuts meeting in Lowestoft

A PROPOSED 'super summit' of lollipop men and women from across Suffolk who face the axe has failed to materialise.

It was hoped the school crossing patrol staff from around the county would attend a high profile public meeting in Lowestoft to discuss setting up a Suffolk-wide battle plan to save their jobs.

But the organisers of next week's meeting say only lollipop men and women from the Waveney area will now be turning up because other crossing patrol staff, from towns such as Bury St Edmunds and Felixstowe, are too busy organising their own local campaigns against Suffolk County Council's cutbacks.

Monday night's meeting, at the Hollingsworth Road community centre from 7pm, has been organised by Lowestoft lollipop woman Lian Shepherd and Waveney District councillor Roger Bellham. It is being held 24 days before the county council votes on its proposals to axe crossing patrol posts countywide.

Despite the lack of other crossing patrol staff, the organisers are asking the people of Lowestoft to turn up in large numbers to show their support.

Mrs Shepherd, from Carlton Colville, said: 'It is a bit of shame the others are not coming. They all seem to be doing their own thing instead.

'It is important people from the town turn up. We only have a short time to gain public opinion and support. If we do not get it in time then we will be gone for good.'

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Mrs Shepherd and her Lowestoft work colleagues have already collected more than 2,500 signatures from parents and other people who oppose the cuts, amid fears that children's safety could be compromised.

Because of a lack in government funding, the county council hopes to save �174,000 a year by scrapping all 60 of its school patrol crossing staff, including 14 in Lowestoft and four posts in Beccles and Bungay.

As a result of the planned cuts and meeting Mrs Shepherd to discuss them, Waveney MP Peter Aldous has written to council leaders to express his road safety concerns.

He has asked the council to clarify whether safety audits have been carried out on the 16 crossings in Waveney and if the council can help volunteers or other organisations to carry out crossing patrols. He has also asked for an update on the work to install a crossing on Lowestoft's busy A12 Yarmouth Road, close to where six-year-old Samantha Castledine was killed on her way to school in 2007.

Mr Aldous said; 'While the county council has some extremely difficult funding decisions to make, I would like to see that all safety issues have been taken into consideration before the final is made to end school crossing patrols.'