THE battle to save lollipop patrols facing the axe in Dorset has been hit by a new threat.

More than half of the Dorset schools affected say they will not be able to pay for crossing patrols when council funding is cut next year.

Thirty two out of 56 schools questioned in a survey said they couldn’t afford to keep lollipop patrols going if Dorset County Council withdraws £200,000 in salaries.

A plan to allow businesses to sponsor a patrol has already failed.

Councillor Janet Dover, for Colehill, said: “It’s not surprising that schools won’t be paying. I haven’t heard a positive outcome from any school that’s looked into it.

“They have so many other calls on their money. Budgets are so tight in education and I think it is completely unreasonable to expect them to pay for it themselves.”

Of the 62 schools in the county with a crossing patrol, 56 meet the national criteria that require a patrol to be made available.

“If a crossing meets the criteria, it matches the government standard for necessity – so it is already proved to be essential,” Cllr Dover said.

“I don’t think the council should even be contemplating this. The whole thing is completely unnecessary because in relation to the rest of the council’s budget this is a small amount of money.”

If the move goes ahead accidents will increase and more parents will drive their children to school, she added. Thousands of parents from across the county signed a petition calling on the council to reverse its decision.

Mums Liz Howard and Liz Norman, from Ferndown, launched their own campaign, even carrying out traffic surveys along Church Road to prove the risk to youngsters.

It’s used by pupils from three schools – none of which have pledged to fill the funding gap.

Mrs Howard said: “This has never been an issue for the school before, and they can’t suddenly find the extra money when so many other things are being cut back.

“In Ferndown a child would be injured or killed in the first week without a crossing. It’s that dangerous.”

A council spokesman said feedback from schools and local communities on alternative funding options will be considered by the Policy Development Panel on Monday, June 27, and in September.

It will make recommendations to a committee in October, which will report back to the cabinet in November.

“The option of business sponsorship for the entire school crossing service was explored but there was a lack of positive feedback from businesses and the option was found to be unfeasible,” he added.