Essex: Nick Clegg urges ‘long and hard’ think before axing lollipop ladies
Nick Clegg has urged County Hall to think “long and hard” before cutting lollipop men and ladies.
Speaking during a visit to Colchester yesterday as part of the launch of the Lib Democrat European Parliament elections campaign, the deputy prime minister said he had concerns about the proposals.
Essex County Council is reviewing school crossing patrols which are on zebra crossings, in a bid to save money.
A consultation on the service finishes today with the results expected next week.
Yesterday Mr Clegg went to Hazelmere Infant School in Hawthorn Avenue, Greenstead, where he spoke to staff and pupils about the free school meal policy which entitles all infant school-age children to a hot lunch from September.
He then visited the neighbouring Nanna’s Day Nursery and talked with parents about widening the number of free hours of nursery provision offered to children.
The school, along with its neighbouring junior school has two lollipop ladies, one of which is at risk.
Speaking to the EADT Mr Clegg said: “Councils need to make their own decisions, it is not for me to second guess them.
“But as councils make savings – which they have to do and I support the push to make savings to balance the books – they should be proper savings.
“My concern about cutting lollipop ladies is you just need to have one child break a leg or, God forbid, have a bad accident and everyone will regret having made such a small saving at such a large cost.
“I would urge, particularly at crossings used by a lot of children and close to schools, for councils to think long and hard before removing lollipop ladies to the detriment of the people they serve.”
Steven Turnbull, headteacher at Hazelmere Infant School, added: “I can only echo what he says.
“We all understand the significant cost cuts have to be made, and everything that moves is being considered.
“But my feeling remains this is a small part and the risk to me still too high.
“They then say if the school does not agree we can pay, putting us between a rock and hard place and passing the blame onto us.
“My job is not fundraising for something which is not my responsibility, as with the governing body who are well-meaning and invest their time freely, it is furthering the education of children.”
An Essex County Council spokesman said: “The consultation ends today and there is still time for people to give us their views.
“All responses will be carefully considered.”
To take part in the consultation visit the Essex Insight website.