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Confusion over the future of the lollipops
CONFUSION reigns over the future of lollipop crossing patrols at Dorset schools.
Two senior councillors have made conflicting statements over the future of the service, which could end next March if Dorset County Council carries through a proposal to withdraw salaries for crossing guards.
The cash-strapped council – which needs to save £55million by 2014/15 after massive cuts to funding from central government – has proposed withdrawing salaries from lollipop patrols in a bid to save £200,000 a year.
But yesterday in a national radio broadcast, the council’s education portfolio holder, Cllr Toni Coombs, said the school crossing service would escape the cuts.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had no responses back from the community anywhere in Dorset from people wanting to take on the role of school crossing patrols and I think that’s very sad,” she said.
“If we can’t find volunteers or schools or town and parish councils to take over the funding then we will continue to fund them.
“We will still have to make cuts but we won’t make the cuts in the school crossing patrols.”
Her comments were made to a 12-year-old schoolgirl at Verwood’s Emmanuel Middle School and recorded as part of the BBC’s School Report initiative. They were broadcast yesterday on Radio Four’s You And Yours programme.
Teacher Elaine Robertson said: “Breanne, who interviewed Cllr Coombs, really impressed the journalists with her interview technique and they quite liked our story.
“If we have done anything to help save the lollipops, we’re very glad.”
But in a statement issued by County Hall to “clarify” the situation, transport portfolio holder Cllr Peter Finney said it would be wrong to pre-empt the results of a consultation on withdrawal of the salaries.
“The level of savings needed means we need to look at the services, including discretionary ones such as school crossing patrols,” he said.
The council wants schools and parish and town councils to fund lollipop staff salaries, but has pledged to continue to foot the bill for training, equipment, and insurance.
It had planned to stop paying salaries in July, but extended the deadline in January to March 2012, when a public consultation ends.