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Essex: Schools face lollipop crossing funding quandary

PUBLISHED: 07:45 17 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:03 17 March 2014

School crossing patrol officers are being reviewed in Essex

School crossing patrol officers are being reviewed in Essex

Archant

Schools in Essex could soon be expected to fund their own lollipop crossing patrols as county hall grapples with a funding shortfall.

A review by cash-strapped Essex County Council (ECC) indicates that schools with patrols on zebra or pelican crossings will lose the service unless they choose to pay.

The proposals could mean a £5,860 annual spending dilemma for 55 schools where the council feels crossing patrol officers are no longer required.

Schools will have to subscribe to the new system for a minimum of one year - starting from summer 2014 - with ECC continuing to employ, train and manage the officers, as well as mobile school crossing patrol officers to cover absences.

The council is currently reviewing spending to cope with a central government funding shortfall, the impact of inflation and increasing demand for services.

Bosses admit the task of saving £235m by 2016-17 will require making “tough decisions” and that all areas of council expenditure are under scrutiny.

The initial proposal will affect only the 55 school crossing patrols located on zebra or pelican crossings, but ECC plans to negotiate a “more equitable funding arrangement” with all 203 schools where it provides a crossing patrol service in the autumn.

In a statement, ECC said it acknowledged the value of crossing patrols to schools, pupils and communities, but that it wanted to develop long-term sustainable plans for the whole service.

It said: “The emphasis will be on schools to decide if they wish to fund the retention of their school crossing patrol on zebra and pelican crossings.

“Depending on the outcome of the negotiations, school crossing patrols on these sites could be removed from summer 2014. Later on in autumn, there will be a conversation about more equitable long term funding arrangements.”

Parents and other interested parties are being invited to share their views on the proposed changes. The engagement period for the initial proposal closes on April 24.

Highways and transportation chief Rodney L Bass said: “Due to the current economic climate and the pressure on local authority budgets we are reviewing the delivery of many aspects of public service delivery, particularly non-statutory services. In relation to any changes to the school crossing patrol, no formal decisions have been made.”

To have your say, visit at www.essexinsight.org.uk.

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