Concern Over School Safety As Council Plans To Axe Crossing Patrols

Wirral Council Consults Over Traffic Crossing Cuts

11.09.2014

The issue of road safety for schoolchildren is likely to be a hotly-contested topic as Wirral Council consults on proposals to axe school crossing patrols in the borough.

It is carrying out the exercise as part of a cost-cutting exercise as it seeks to trim £18 million from its budget next year and £27 million in 2016-17. These measures could include a number of job losses in addition to the 500 it has shed in the course of making £100 million of cuts in recent years.  

Council chief executive Graham Burgess acknowledged that the idea of cutting school crossing patrols was highly unpopular when it was floated last year, as it included removing all council services in the area and making the schools pay for them instead, the Wirral Globe reports.

He said: "This time we're only focusing on those patrols that are on either puffin or pelican crossings, which are far safer, and there will be a full risk assessment before we do it.

"That still leaves more than 100 school crossing patrols, which will still be staffed by our staff."

However, the plans by the Labour council were criticised by the opposition Conservative group, whose leader Jeff Green said the measures were "petty and vindictive", arguing that the council has "£80 million sitting in reserves".

While the plans may cause concern for parents worried about the safety of their children as they go to and from school, the alternatives have also proved unpopular. The local public are being asked to look again at plans to increase charging in two local car parks, which they rejected in last year's consultation.

The issue of road safety is particularly acute outside secondary schools in September, due to new starters being unfamiliar with the roads they are riding or walking along, new research by the AA has found.

It noted that 71 per cent more 11-year-olds died or were seriously injured in accidents near schools in September 2012 than ten-year-olds.

Expert Opinion
In our work we have seen the devastating consequences of collisions involving vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, and motor vehicles. It is vital cost-cutting measures do not increase the risks school children are exposed to while walking to and from school.

“We hope that any decisions to remove staff from crossings are taken after a detailed review and assessment of the risks that children will be exposed to once staff are removed.”
Jonathan Peacock, Partner