Saturday, 15 January 2011

Dear Mr Cameron

This is the letter which was sent to Prime Minister David Cameron accompanying letters written by Year Six pupils.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Please find enclosed some letters from the children at Holy Trinity School in Weymouth, Dorset. The children seem to believe that if you have a serious problem which needs sorting out, you write to the man at the top.

These letters have been written because Dorset County Council is planning to cut the funding of the School Crossing Patrol service across the whole of Dorset. This will save £200,000 and cost 65 jobs, which is I believe a mere 0.03% of the total Dorset Budget.

We find it incomprehensible that anyone would consider that putting children’s lives in danger simply to save £200,000 is an acceptable solution. Over recent years there have been less children killed on our roads than ever before; however according to Brake the national road safety charity;

‘In 2009, 195 children were killed and 4,188 were seriously injured on UK roads - accounting for 12 deaths and serious injuries among under-18s every day. 59% of these deaths and injuries were children on foot or bicycle.  Although the UK has the second lowest road death rate in the EU, its child pedestrian death rate per population is worse than 10 other EU countries’.

If we lose School Crossing Patrols, these rates of death and injury to children, will be highly likely to increase again.

It is DCC’s suggestion that the schools and local community can pick up the slack by either finding the funding or alternatively providing volunteers. The money is not to be taken from the education budget but to be raised by the school. The current cost of the three patrol people who help Holy Trinity children to get to school safely is £10,000 per annum. To pay for this service would take every penny that the school currently raises through fund raising activities and there would be no money left for all the other items that the school needs.

In the Council’s view it is the parents and not the County that are responsible for the children’s safe delivery to school. Though I can’t argue with the fact that parents are responsible for their children I assert that the roads are simply too dangerous for parents with small children to cross safely without aid; even the SCPs suffer regularly from drivers who won’t stop and several have been injured.

County will not be replacing the SCPs with pelican or other crossing points and many parents will simply take their children to school by car rather than risk trying to cross our busy roads. There are also a high percentage, especially in Weymouth and Portland, of
lower income single parent families where the children have to go to school alone because the parents have to get to work; these are the children who risk becoming the next accident statistics.

As for volunteers, I know as a leader of a Walking Bus scheme how hard it is to get people to help me. I strongly doubt that anyone will volunteer to stand out in the road in all weathers putting their lives at risk without recompense.

This is presently just a Dorset wide campaign, which is being widely covered in the press, but I do understand that other counties who are looking to make savings are also considering these same cuts. Surely as a civilised society we should never put our children’s lives at risk to save money.

Please could you read and take note of the concerns of the children and give us your support before the council meet to ratify the proposed cuts on 17th February.

Yours sincerely,
Helen Toft

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