Row over Birmingham's shrinking lollipop patrols

Row over Birmingham’s shrinking lollipop patrols

Birmingham’s Labour council leadership has been accused of cutting lollipop school crossing patrols – despite promises to protect them from cuts.

According to official figures, there has been a 20 per cent drop in lollipop staff over the last three years, prompting allegations of cuts by stealth.

But the city council said numbers were low because there were some vacancies for wardens.

In 2015, the authority dropped a proposal to axe all 226 wardens as part of a cost-cutting drive following a campaign by the Birmingham Mail.

The council initially argued road safety was the responsibility of schools.

It instead decided to keep 190 at the highest-priority school crossings in the city.



By January 2016 there were 199 wardens.

But that number reduced to 187 by 2017 and now stands at 176.

Opposition Liberal Democrats accused the council of rolling back the service, pointing to a £381,000 cut in the budget for wardens last year.

Group leader Coun Jon Hunt (Perry Barr) said: “The proposal to axe crossing patrols was highly controversial two years ago.

“What these figures show is that, in fact, 27 had been axed in the 12 months beforehand and another 23 since then.

“The promise was made in response to a budget consultation.



Jon Hunt, Lib Dem councillor for Perry Barr

“Residents might think that promises made are not worth the paper they are written on – if cuts are implemented by stealth.

“I can point to a disappearing crossing patrol in my ward and the concern it raises about children’s safety – and also about the pressing need to encourage children and parents to walk to this particular congested school premises.”

Coun Hunt said a patrol on a zebra crossing on Rocky Lane, near Dorrington Academy, had been missing for two years.

But the council said it was not a high-priority location.

A council spokeswoman said the number included vacancies.

“We still have the 190 sites and we are recruiting,” she said.

“Wardens are also still on some lower-priority sites and will not be replaced when they leave.

“There are also some temporary stand-in wardens at other sites.”

She added: “The Young Active Travel initiative encourages schools and parents to review how pupils travel to school and to develop school travel plans.

“Grants of up to £1,000 are available to support and promote safe and sustainable travel for school children.

“Officers would assist the school to access the ModeShift road safety programme or help them develop a grant bid from the YAT Trust.”

The number of Birmingham lollipop patrols at-a-glance:

Jan 2015 – 226

Jan 2016 – 199

Jan 2017 – 187

Jan 2018 – 176

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