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.
c/o @wembleymatters on twitter "Cllr George Crane argued at Cabinet that because few accidents in Brent around schools then cutting school crossing patrols was tolerable!"
Is this really the reasoning we are dealing with in Brent?!
Considering statistically the majority of children that were in road accidents were hurt before or after classes on school days - it shows that the Brent School Crossing Patrol is doing a great job!
The AA states that "A child from a low-income family is five times more likely than a child from a high-income family to be killed on the road" and "Children from an ethnic minority are involved in up to twice as many accidents while walking or playing as the national average" -
Given the socio-demographic of Brent - cutting these services leads to a high risk to children of death.
It's the same reasoning they used to withdraw schol crossing patrols from our local infants school. Right on the Edgware Road - this is nothing new. :(
Criticisms of this policy seem to be missing the point. Brent schools have very large cash reserves which they are simply sitting on. The same policy has been carried out in Harrow, so look to that borough if you want reassurances that it is sensible...
Martin please no offence to you and your readers Brent is run by Christine Gilbert & Associates. We have to bear with them till May 2018.
If they are so important why don't the schools pay for them? They have huge reserves and steady funding.
Ah, Harrow. So sensible you could believe you were in Denmark .......
I think it's a little disingenuous to imply that Cllr Crane is taking children's safety lightly. There clearly aren't any easy decisions and we all know that the funding exists in the schools' reserves. I think people need to have a bit of common sense and restraint about this particular cut, sensitive as it may seem.
"no easy decisions" - DRINK!
Huge cash reserves and steady income? So hard to get my head around that. Budget cuts coming next school year from Central government, schools stretched far by DfE as they dump money into vanity project free schools and ademy conversions.
I am sick to death of serving Brent councillors who don't have the cojones to post under their own names.
GCHQ regularly comment on blogs etc. anonymously in order to guide debate in the direction of common sense, so why not Brent councillors?
It stops contrarian ex-councillors like you spreading falsehoods.
How does anonymous manipulation of fora to 'guide content' as per the 'cognitive infiltration' stylings of Cass Sunstein to spread non accountable misinformation fit with Sadiq Khans claim that Labour is interested in civil liberties?
The real reason they're posting anon is they are scared of disobeying their glorious leader who considers this site 'the enemy'
The point is that Brent has not discussed with schools the possibility of crossing services being taken over by schools, they have not negotiated it or made any arrangements for this to happen, they have not assessed the patrols individually and seen which can be taken over by schools and decided to save the rest - they are simply making a sweeping across the board cut with no assessment of its impact.
Children will die and Brent Council will bear some respobsibility.
As for George Crane's reported comments that we can dispense with crossing services because no one has been run over near a school recently, can anyone really be that stupid?
Have you considered the cost of sending inspectors to every school in Brent to 'assess' the risk to taking away each crossing patrol?
The proposal is also NOT to take away school crossing patrols. That is a straw man argument. The proposal is to use Brent schools' huge cash reserves to fund them.
Can we deal in facts, please, and not melodramatic statements about Cllr Crane putting children at risk?
The cut is of course currently a proposal agreed by the Cabinet so a collective responsibility and if voted through by Full Council will be their collective responsilbilty - not George Crane's individual responsibility.
The Council cannot force school governing bodies to spend their budget on school crossing patrols, they manage their own budgets and have done for years. Of course they may decide if there is no other option, particularly near dangerous roads, to do so rather than put children at risk.
The reference to 'huge school reserves, also used in the Cabinet, neeeds to be put into context. Surpluses carried over by schools have a percentage limit. Over and above that fianncial controls means the school has to justify the amount of reserves to the Council. These are often earmarked for school refurbishment, expansion of school libraries (after the closures of some local libraries) ICT developments etc. They have to satisfy the Council that these are legitimate projects.
Some schools do have big surpluses as they prepare for projects, go out to procurement etc but others have no surplus or even a deficit. The safety of a child should not depend, through provision of a school crossing patro, on the financial status of the school - it shoudl depend on a risk assessment of that particular crossing.
Schools taking on a crossing patrol are also taking on a long-term commitment. It is estimated that if Tories win the election schools will face a 10% reduction in real terms. this will include increases in employers national insurance and pension contributions. In addition many costs, until recently borne by the Council, have been shunted on to schools. These include special educational needs support and assessments and the school crossing patrol costs adds another to the list. Even the closure of the Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre will mean schools will have to seek out alternative.
I think it's more that Brent councillors, unlike ex-Lib Dem councillors and Green PPCs, actually have something to lose...
Also - it's not that surprising for a Labour politician to think of a Green blog which regularly attacks his administration as an enemy...
Sunshine, I was just as prepared to speak under my own name when I was a councillor as I am now. If contrarian means not being a sheeple, then that works for me.
Presumably, what Brent councillors have to lose are their allowances if not selected in 2018 because they dared speak with their own minds.
(Contrarian: ah, the language of someone I know so well.)
It used to be Brent policy to formally risk assess schools for the need for crossing patrols. Last time they chopped them, there was a document that Moher kept citing.
14.31 you really are a prat. Schools having 'huge reserves and steady funding', which planet is this person on.
Here Here Alison. It's the same reason they all sit on their fat arses following MO LIKE THE SHEEP THEY ARE
I predict that by the next election in 2020, following the neo-con drift of Conservative public policy, all social provision of lollipop people will have been abolished as being 'socialistic' and parents will be encouraged to make their own individual arrangements for the road-crossing safety of their children. A range of US insurance companies will, for an annual fee, provide individualised 'crossing buddies' ( agency workers recruited from newly-liberated North Korea and on zero hours contracts) to accompany just your child to and from school. ( Kids will be heard saying to their parents: ' You mean in the old days all the children in the school had to share the same lollipop lady! How budget is that!')
The new system will provide 'choice' and, as is the way with these things, will soon become official Labour party policy too.
'Sunshine', eh? I've been waiting for you to name the troll for months, Alison. But Sunshine who? Let's have his/her surname (and a picture if possible).
Sorry, Mike, the sunshine was me being rather Norf London, rather than any direct reference to our friend who dwells under a bridge. ;)
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