We know that the Country has to seriously address the financial dilemma it faces and difficult decisions need to be made. However, surely the saving of life and limb on the road needs to have a prime position on the list of ‘can’t do without’.
The decision by Suffolk County Council to abandon its entire School Crossing Patrol service to save £170,000 is one of the very worst cases of social neglect that the current round of cuts have caused. In terms of the saving needed to meet its budget this cruel cut is a very tiny amount of money yet will endanger thousands of school children and indeed parents on their way to and from school.
School Crossing Patrols or ‘Lollipop’ people as they are better known have been a feature on our roads since the 1940’s and they not only prevent children from having accidents on the way to and from school they also directly and indirectly provide vital road safety training to young people.
Their work is poorly paid and extremely dangerous as the Patrol Officer in Lowestoft Suffolk found out recently when he was struck by a car and received serious injuries. The driver said he did not see the ‘lollipop’ man despite the fact that he was dressed head to foot in fluorescent/reflective clothing and carrying a reflective school crossing sign. What chance would a child in dark school uniform have had?
Taking away the dedicated people who work literally at the ‘sharp end’ of road safety is a cut too far and must be opposed by everyone involved in child safety and welfare.
Meanwhile, GEM appeals to drivers everywhere to stay vigilant when driving in built up areas and anywhere they are likely to encounter school children crossing the road. With these cuts in place, everyone needs to do their bit to ensure the safety of young pedestrians and of course all other road users who are vulnerable to injury by vehicles on the road.