I am publishing the speech made by Michelle Goldsmith at Brent Cabinet, presenting a petition about the cuts in school crosssing patrols, as a Guest Blog as it raises many pertinent issues.
Another petition where children lose out.
This petition is asking the Council to review their intention to sack all School Crossing Patrols in Brent. I appreciate that these are difficult times with huge cuts in funding, but cutting road safety services too far will mean more people being killed or injured. Apart from the human cost, it just doesn’t make financial sense – road accidents can cost millions of pounds so preventing them saves millions of pounds.
At a very basic level I ask you to review each School Crossing Patrol individually and to visit the staff and the crossing to see why they are so important. Personally, everyday myself and my two young children cross roads with 2 lollipop staff. Both are different and needed in different ways.
Bernie works on Kingswood Avenue in Queens Park - there is no zebra crossing or traffic lights, there is a huge amount of fast moving traffic and lots of parked cars which means poor visibility. Without a doubt the safety that Bernie provides is invaluable and without it there will be accidents.
Mary is next, opposite Salusbury School, at the traffic lights. You may think having traffic lights will make it safer and easier to cross. It is not necessarily the case. Come and see for yourself the incidents that are dealt with on a daily basis. Traffic is horrendous and will only get worse with new housing developments being built and planned.
The bright visibility of Mary with her lollipop to me is again invaluable. I wouldn’t let my children cross these roads on their own – but with Mary and Bernie I do. It gives them a bit of independence that children seldom seem to get these days.
That’s my personal experience, here are some stats:
- Road traffic accidents are the biggest killer of children in the UK
- ‘You’re 10 times more likely to have an accident outside your school’ – taken from “Brent Safer Roads” booklet. This is with school crossing patrols
- Nearly two in three road accidents happen when children are walking or playing.
- Child road accidents have risen for the 1st time in 20 years (up 3%) – Child deaths were 1730 last year up by 1%. As the RAC states this is a wake up call – cuts in visible policing and road safety spending are having an impact.
Brent’s solution is that schools pay for it. Sorry, it’s simply not the school’s responsibility. It is the councils, you have a legal obligation to ensure road safety. It also sets a dangerous precedent of getting others to pay for public services.
I feel this is such a narrow minded and short term solution. The longer term benefits of a relatively cheap service can have a huge impact on sustainable travel, public health, and costs of road accidents – all of which the council is responsible for and has targets for.
And lastly, but I feel just as important – we are slowly eroding our sense of community. Bernie, Mary and others are part of our community, they know most of the children by name, they’ve worked their jobs for many years and reinforce the importance of road safety to our children.
I don’t want to live in an area where people drive to their local school, too scared to let their children walk or cycle, where there’s no interaction between different communities and populations. We need our community – to understand each other to live with each other.
So, please, reconsider your sweeping cuts of Lollipop staff and look at it from needs basis. Look at each individual crossing, visit the crossings for yourselves and make a decision based on fact and long term benefits.