School crossing patrols set to be axed across Hampshire in a bid to save cash

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School crossing patrols across Hampshire are set to be axed to save the cash-strapped county council £1.1 million a year leaving parents fearing for the safety of their children.

Worried parents are urging Hampshire County Council to prioritise children’s wellbeing and safety and have asked how much a child’s life is worth with school crossing patrols in Waterlooville, Fareham and Gosport among those facing the chop. The council currently provides 184 school crossing patrols (SCP), a service which helps children and parents cross the road safely on their way to and from school. However, under the savings proposal plan to generate enough money to plug the financial gap of £132 million by 2025/26, 26 patrols are set to be removed from the streets to save £1.1 million per year.

In The News area those facing the axe are at Hunts Pond Road/Longacres, Park Gate; Red Lion/Stubbington Green, Stubbington; Aldermoor Road, Purbrook, Padnell Avenue, Waterlooville; Park Lane/Hazelholt Drive, Bedhampton; Mill Road, Waterlooville; Gosport Road/Cambridge Road, Gosport; Wych Lane/Kent Road, Gosport and Church Road in Swanmore. If approved, they would be withdrawn by April 2025.

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Further to the 26 which could disappear, the other 154 patrol sites would be reviewed to see “what could be done to make them safer”. The council said changes to roads, improving road signs, installing a traffic island, changing speed limits, or installing traffic lights could be introduced to replace the patrols.

School crossing patrols could be put at risk as a result of measures by Hampshire County Council to save money. Picture for illustrative purposes onlySchool crossing patrols could be put at risk as a result of measures by Hampshire County Council to save money. Picture for illustrative purposes only
School crossing patrols could be put at risk as a result of measures by Hampshire County Council to save money. Picture for illustrative purposes only

Parent Lisa Greenway expressed her concern about the measure, and although she understands the council’s need to balance the budget, children’s safety and wellbeing should be “paramount” for the council. Mrs Greenway said: “It feels like a kick in the teeth. I appreciate that cuts need to be made, and we must do all we can to make sure we can balance the budget; the last thing we want to do is to see the council go bankrupt. However, safety is paramount.

“For the saving of just 1.1 million… I don’t understand. Money is extremely important, and we have to balance the books. I agree with that; however, I cannot support the idea that a child’s life, health, and safety are less important than saving a little bit of money that will not guarantee the safety of their finances.

“The children’s safety and wellbeing should be the priority to everybody. Is £1.1 million the price of a life? If I buried my child because they’ve been hit by a car because there is a lack of SCP, is my child’s life worth £1.1 million? No, it’s not. Is worth the word, and it shouldn’t be a price.”

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This mum pointed out the importance of school crossing patrols for the whole community since they are a trustees person for children, and they can notice a change in behaviour in children and give feedback to schools. They [SCP] are a trustee figure in the community”, she said.

“Children built up that relationship with them. The lollipop person also gets to know the child and the family. They are more aware of any potential issues with a child, and they can then give feedback to the school. So, it is also a safeguarding element. They are a lot more than just helping children crossing roads. They are a valuable asset.”

In regards to the public consultation which is gathering people’s thoughts on a variety of proposed cuts, Mrs Greenway urged Hampshire County Council to publicise it more and to make it easier to understand since many parents are not aware of “what is going on” and those who are aware “don’t understand what the consultation is saying”.

“Many families I have spoken to are unaware of these consultations due to them only being available online,” she said. “And when I have made them aware, like me, they are very concerned about what this could be for the safety of our children. Those who are aware are completely overwhelmed with the information and don’t understand what they are saying.

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“I would urge Hampshire County Council to provide communications to schools so they can issue out to the school community because if school children came with a letter in their school bags or via parent email explaining exactly what the school crossing patrol consultation is about, parents would have an opportunity to provide their feedback it would be fairer and more transparent approach for consultations.”

Bill O’Donovan, a school governor in Hampshire, suggested that the council’s financial sustainability doesn’t depend on the £1.1 million savings that could be made by getting rid of the patrols. He said: “The council’s medium and long-term financial sustainability doesn’t depend on this. If the 154 other SCP are to be replaced, the alternatives are more expensive than the solution.

“SCP is not a statutory service; they don’t have to provide it. Everyone I spoke to has been incredibly impressed with that argument. It is not just about what the law says but about what is right for the community. The council should be there to support the residents of Hampshire and address their concerns. I think there is too much short-term thinking here. The council and Hampshire MPs need to do a much better job and fight for our community’s needs.”

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Public consultation will be open until March 31. You can give your feedback using the online consultation response form. Or, if you prefer to complete the response form offline, you can download a printable version. You can also email a written response directly to Hampshire County Council using [email protected] or write to Freepost HAMPSHIRE (Please also write PandO, IEU, FM09 on the back of the envelope).