Parents speak out to protect lollipop ladies and men across Wandsworth
7:30am Thursday 14th July 2011 in News
Worried parents and children took to the streets last week outraged that the lollipop ladies and men who protect their children outside schools could be axed by the cash-strapped council.
Pupils and parents voiced their fears after it emerged the school crossing service, which costs Wandsworth Council £200,000 a year, was under threat.
It is consulting primary schools about them taking over the cost of the service, with the council proposing that it retains responsibility for training, uniforms and equipment.
Fircroft Primary School, in Tooting, has launched a Save Our Lollipop People campaign on its website and parents of youngsters at Honeywell Junior School and Belleville Primary School, both in Battersea, have begun collecting signatures on petitions.
A spokesman for the council, which has written to the 45 schools that benefit from the borough's 37 paid patrollers, stressed no decisions have been made - but parents are angry the cuts are even being considered.
Last year 1,620 youngsters under 15 were seriously injured and 26 died on Britain’s roads according to Government statistics and they fear their children could themselves become statistics if help crossing roads is withdrawn.
Landy Slattery, a parent at Fircroft, said: "The fact that so many turned up in the pouring rain to show support for our lollipop people is indicative of the heartbreak and outrage felt by all the parents of Fircroft School.
"These crossings are too dangerous to be left unmanned in the mornings. The council needs to listen to us and not wait for a dreadful accident to a child before reconsidering their decision.
"Technically this issue is still in review and we dearly hope that the council will agree to fund this precious and necessary service. What sort of a society do we live in if the safety of our children can be put at risk to save a small amount of money?"
Other parents at the Tooting primary said the school crossing staff were well-loved by their children, claiming "there will be loads of accidents" if the service goes.
Tooting MP Sadiq Khan added: "Government cuts mean our schools simply cannot afford to pay for them if the council cuts their budget.
"Road safety for our children should be one of the main priorities of our council. By taking away our lollipop ladies and men they are putting local children's safety at risk."
The lollipop ladies and men have been warned not to speak to the press while the decision-making process continues.
A council spokesman said: "Nothing at all has been decided and nothing will be until we have concluded our ongoing discussions with teachers and governing bodies.
"Thirty per cent of schools who currently have a patroller have already stated that they would be willing to take over the cost of providing this service and discussions are continuing with the others.
"We are also working closely with schools to try and encourage parents and staff to take over these duties and for these we will provide all the necessary training, uniforms and equipment."