Town’s school crossing patrols may be saved

FOUR school crossing patrols which face the chop under county-council plans to axe the entire service could be offered a lifeline by a town council.

Members of Bury St Edmunds Town Council will next week discuss whether the town council should fund the service, which has been described as “essential”.

The entire school crossing patrol service is due to go as part of the cost-cutting plans of Suffolk County Council.

Whether Bury St Edmunds Town Council should step in to save the service locally is on the agenda for next Wednesday’s meeting of the finance, policy and resources committee.

David Nettleton, chairman of the committee, and vice chair of the town council, said if the proposal was backed by the finance committee, and then the whole of the town council, the following current patrols could be saved:

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Mr Nettleton said: “It’s just a road safety measure. If a child is knocked over and killed or badly injured that would be a terrible thing which would be reported on and the question asked: ‘why is this allowed to happen?’

“So we are trying to prevent any of this happening by trying to be as safe as we possibly can.”

Nick Templeton, headteacher of Westley Middle School, said it would be “fantastic” if the town council could take the service on.

“At the end of the day I think it’s important the service is covered,” he said.

The headteacher spoke of his own experience of covering crossing patrol duties at Westley Road, describing how cars sometimes fail to stop.

He said he appreciated that the county council had to decide which services should stay and which should go, but he believed school crossing patrols were “crucial” to make sure children were safe.

Anna Mansfield, deputy headteacher at St Edmund’s Catholic Primary School, said: “Obviously the safety of our children is paramount and it would be great news if we are able to keep our school patrol officer.”

She added: “A service that affects the safety of children should not be cut really and as it is a busy road I feel it’s a necessity.”

Mr Nettleton said the town council would be looking at putting aside �10,000 to �15,000 from reserves to cover the service for a year, and ideally the service would then be carried on permanently.

The leadership team at Horringer Court Middle School in the town have been voluntarily carrying out school crossing patrol duties, but Mr Nettleton said if the school approached the town council there could be scope to take their patrol on as well.

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