Fears rise over Suffolk crossing patrols

FEARS were growing today that Suffolk's entire army of lollipop men and women could be axed next year.

It is understood that the entire �230,000 budget of the school crossing patrol service is set to be included in possible cuts to be discussed by the county's finance scrutiny committee next week.

The meeting will give the councillors and staff the first opportunity to see the scale of the cuts being proposed by the Conservative administration at Endeavour House.

However final decisions cannot be made until the county knows the exact settlement it will be receiving from the government's Department of Communities and Local Government within the next two weeks.

The agenda for the meeting is due to be published today, but sources at the council have confirmed to the EADT that the future of the entire school crossing patrol service will be put under the microscope.

The cost of the service is �230,000 with each school crossing patrol person being paid an average of �2,232.

Earlier this year there were officially 89 sites across the county which should have been staffed by a road crossing patrol person.

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Labour group leader Sandy Martin said there were currently 72 sites which should have a crossing patrol – but 11 were unfilled.

He added: 'Parents all over Suffolk know how important it is for their children to get to school safely.

'The county council administration have a totally warped sense of priorities if they can't see what a terrible decision this will be.

'Labour Councillors at Suffolk County Council and in borough and district councils throughout the county will not rest until we have made the Conservatives see sense about this.'

County deputy leader Jane Storey said she knew school crossing patrols were mentioned in the budget document, but did not know the details of the issue.

But she warned there were tough choices facing the council: 'There are going to be a lot of things a lot of people are not going to be happy about – but I'm afraid this is the stark reality we are facing.'

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