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Suffolk County Councillor's lolly throws a lifeline to four Lowestoft crossing patrols

PUBLISHED: 12:26 25 March 2011

Suffolk County Councillor Bill Mountford. Lowestoft South ward.

Suffolk County Councillor Bill Mountford. Lowestoft South ward.

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A LIFELINE has been offered to four of Lowestoft's lollipop patrols.

All 14 of the town’s crossing patrols are facing the axe this summer after the decision by Suffolk County Council to cut funding for posts countywide as part of efforts to save £42.5m.

But this week there were hopes of some salvation.

Bill Mountford, UKIP county councillor for the Lowestoft South division, said he had met a number of local school heads and he had agreed to offer £8,000 from his locality budget to fund four patrols.

“I’ve been trying to give as much support as I could since the decision a month ago,” said Mr Mountford, who opposed the proposal to cut funding for the patrols.

“The meetings with the head teachers were organised so we could look into ways of preserving the crossing patrols as an option to run them until Easter 2012.”

Mr Mountford said it was too soon to say the crossings had been saved, but he was hopeful.

He added: “It has not yet been approved, but I have applied to give from my locality budget £2,000 to Grove Primary School, £2,000 to Dell Primary School and £4,000 to Elm Tree Primary School, as they have two crossings. I’ve made the application, the money is technically allocated, and at this stage the heads and governors of the schools will have the final say.”

With the annual running costs for each school crossing patrol estimated at £3,000 and the current funding poised to end in July, the money earmarked by Mr Mountford should safeguard them until Easter next year.

When it was first announced, the proposal to axe Suffolk’s lollipop men and women prompted a wave of protest and led to a 4,000-name petition being delivered to the authority ahead of a key meeting last month. But the Conservative-led council shrugged off the objections and pressed ahead with its plan which, it says, will save about £174,000 as part of its efforts to cut the overall spending budget for 2011/12.

Crossing patrol assistant Lian Shepherd, from Carlton Colville, who is campaigning hard with colleagues to save their jobs, has now called on businesses to see if they would like to sponsor lollipop patrols.

She praised Mr Mountford’s support and said she was “so pleased” with what he had done.

She added: “Bill Mountford has been really, really good with us right since the first day. I wrote to Waveney District Council [to see if it would help fund or take over the town’s 14 crossing patrols] and I had a short, succinct letter back from them thanking me for my letter but saying ‘the district council has no plans to fund school crossing patrols.’

“So, to offer the whole of his locality budget to keep some crossing patrols going is fantastic.”

Mrs Shepherd added that her colleagues were trying to put pressure on those responsible for the crossing patrols in north Lowestoft, now that they had this boost in south Lowestoft.

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