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Council warned of dangers of scrapping school crossing wardens

April 5, 2017 9:23 PM

Robin Ashby and Gosforth TrafficSpeaking in support of the petition presented by Gosforth Traffic, Cllr Robin Ashby tonight paid tribute to their assiduousness and enthusiasm in gathering support in the community and securing a debate. He said "As important to me as the Broadway East crossing is - my grandchildren have been seen across the road for 8 years, and will be until the end of the summer term - I also need to remind Members that this potentially tragic mistake is going to be made more than 50 times across the city.

Child mown down - council cost cutting blamed for life changing injuries

That is not a headline any of us want to read. And if it is, I will remind the world that Labour councillors applauded themselves last month for passing a budget which included the removal of school crossing wardens across the City.

Last night I visited a constituent appalled and concerned at the Administration's proposals. A grandfather like me, with a little girl at the local school like me, he told me that the removal of the school crossing warden on an "almost-blind corner" is a gross dereliction of the council's duty of care to the community. The thought of her (or anyone else's children) being hurt in an accident is too dreadful to contemplate, he said. His parting words to me were "I hope the Council will review this decision and put the health and safety of our children ahead of cost-cutting."

The Liberal Democrats have repeatedly pointed out that at only £5000 per warden per year, the cost could easily be paid from the Council's soaring reserves. It would be an unnoticeable amount as they move towards £100 million.

It's not just residents and councillors who want to see this decision reversed. For instance, Space for Gosforth have written to the Leader and Chief Executive asking for a review, saying that "children's safety in particular should be considered a priority"

I remind you of the petitions that have also come in supported by Labour councillors and thousands of their residents - this is a cross party, cross city issue. One ward is already using its scarce funds to pay for their warden for another two years. Sadly in wards like Parklands, our funds will be below £5000 this year so that option isn't open to us.

In summation, it's time for the Labour administration to change its mind for the safety of future generations….To each Councillor here I say : What price do you put on a child's life?"

And here's what the Leader of the Liberal Democrats Group Cllr Anita Lower said :

I have great sympathy for the campaigners, as I have seen the consequences of a child being hit by a car on their way home from school.

In the budget debate we put forward a number of amendments, one of which was to fund School patrols and we identified the funding to do so, however the Labour group chose to vote this down. If you look at the minutes of the budget meeting there is a list of every member who was against the proposal.

So Lord Mayor, what are the huge sums of money we are talking about… well, Walker Ward Committee has out of its budget entered into a two year contract for a school crossing patrol, the great sum this is costing is £10 k for two years. As we know the legislation has changed and the Tory government has prevented schools from contributing directly to costs, however the administration is sitting on over £100m in reserves, the cost of crossing patrols is £260,000 so the question is what price child safety.