Sidmouth Primary welcomes crossing patrol U-turn

Sidmouth Primary School logo

Sidmouth Primary School logo - Credit: Archant

County Hall chiefs have shelved plans to ask schools to fund their own crossing patrols after families showed the strength of feeling on the issue - and the matter will not be revisited while the current leader is in office.

Devon County Council (DCC) had planned to cut the £250,000 service as its budget is being squeezed by £26million in 2016/17.

But since the budget was set last month, council leader John Hart has received ‘considerably’ more feedback from families and schools than in either of the formal public consultations staged last year.

The move secures crossing patrols in Woolbrook Road and Vicarage Road for Sidmouth Primary School, and for Ottery St Mary Primary School.

Sidmouth Primary School headteacher Paul Walker said: “I am very pleased to see this decision has been made.

“As governors, we would have probably been able to retain one of our two patrols. However, this would have come at the expense of something else.

“This decision means we can continue to target our funding to support the learning and achievement of the children.”

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County councillor Claire Wright, who represents Ottery St Mary, said: “This is excellent news for Ottery and Feniton in my ward, which desperately need the service.

“Both primary schools would have really struggled to fund it as budgets are so tight, with the Government’s squeeze on education.”

DCC back-tracked on the decision at Monday’s scrutiny committee meeting.

Liberal Democrat members who campaigned against the cut welcomed the ‘U-turn’, but said it is unclear where the funding will now come from.

Councillor Hart said: “Since the budget meeting on February 18, I have been contacted by hundreds of parents and grandparents – far more than took part in the two public consultations last year.

“I have heard from a lot of mums and dads who were deeply worried about their children’s safety and obviously that is paramount.

“On reflection, I believe this was the wrong decision. Our budget is extremely tight, but we will now find the money to fund the lollipop ladies and men.

“And I want to reassure all the people who have been in contact that – whilst I remain leader of this administration at County Hall – I will not re-introduce this measure.”