Kirklees Council makes no patrol assurances

DISAPPOINTED: Coun John Lawson after last week's council meeting
DISAPPOINTED: Coun John Lawson after last week's council meeting
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Kirklees Council has been asked to make assurances that measures to help children get to school safely will remain in place.

At a full council meeting last week, Coun Peter McBride refused to be drawn on whether or not the council will remove funding for school crossing patrols for roads near schools in Kirklees.

Oldham Council, in an attempt to make £31 million of savings, is looking to axe some of its schools crossing patrols, and Cleckheaton councillor John Lawson wanted Kirklees Council’s cabinet to make assurances to keep them.

He said: “Having learnt what is happening in Oldham, I think it very important that we get assurances now about the future funding of school crossing patrols here in Kirklees.

“School crossing patrols are essential to ensuring young people can get to and from school safely and I know that they give parents great peace of mind. They are also key to more and more parents being willing to let their children walk to school – without them I am sure that rush hour traffic would be even worse.

“Ultimately I think that local authorities have a moral responsibility to provide this service regardless of what the law says.”

Coun McBride (Lab, Dalton) responded by saying: “There are no such plans at the moment. What may happen in the future, I don’t know. We have a moral commitment to the schools, but I cannot guarantee what the move of the council might be in terms of looking at alternatives.

“If it was up to me, I wouldn’t (remove funding for the crossing patrols), but I won’t determine such matters.”

There are currently 72 crossing patrols in Kirklees, with vacant positions for a further 19, and that they are important for the safety of school children in the region.

Speaking after the meeting Coun Lawson (Lib Dem) said: “I am very disappointed. I asked the question because I found it alarming that a neighbouring council had made the decision to cut these services.

“Some of our busiest roads are by schools, and the children that use the roads need protection, so that the parents feel safer.”

There are currently eight vacancies for school crossing patrols that remain unfilled throughout North Kirklees.

A spokeswoman for Kirklees Council said: “Vacancies are advertised on the web and posters are also put in schools. We have also started promoting vacancies through area committee meetings to enable those attending to spread the word.

“We have tried hard to recruit to this particular vacancy and will continue to do so. We would urge people to get in touch if they would consider applying.”

Kirklees Council currently spends £459,000 per year on school crossings, which includes wages, supervision, training, equipment and recruitment costs..