Thursday, 30 June 2011

And so it goes on, and on...

The wheels of democracy turn so painfully slow. On Monday the Dorset County Council, Policy Development Panel met for the second time to discuss the situation with School Crossing Patrols following the consultation process. I know that all the schools have been consulted because the BBC carried out the same consultation (in slightly less time) and the majority decision was that schools would not be spending their children's education budget on road safety.

I know for a fact that DCC officers have been asking local councils and parish councils if they will provide the funding and likewise the replies have been negative.

The third idea was seeking sponsorship. I don't believe for one minute that the PDP has been tasked with finding this sponsorship or even that county council officers have been instructed to spend the next 3 months ringing around all the firms in the county seeking this sponsorship. Therefore they should have been able to reach a decision on the strength of what they discussed on Monday.

Of course the panellists will be claiming expenses for these meetings, which is more money that could be saved if they just got on and made a decision.

You wouldn't run a private company like this. If there was a problem of this magnitude to be sorted you wouldn't have meetings at 3 monthly intervals, you'd sit round a table for a long as it took until the matter was resolved.

When DCC was approached by our local BBC correspondent for a comment about the meeting on Monday this was the response.
Angus Campbell, leader of the county council, said: "I know that the future funding of school crossing patrols is a difficult and sensitive issue about which many people are anxiously concerned. A panel of councillors has been looking into this. They are due to complete their discussions in September, after which there will be a wider discussion leading to a decision by the county council in November. I look forward to hearing the panel's views as a valuable contribution to our decision-making."

Colin Jamieson, chair of the Policy Develop Panel on school crossing patrols, said: "The county council faces making tough decisions in order to make the level of savings required of us. We are engaging with schools, town and parish councils and county council officers on the options for how the safety of children is safeguarded. We aim to have our ideas ready in September." 
In the meantime, all the hard working School Crossing Patrol staff continue to live in a state of anxiety unsure whether they will still be working this time next year. This is a shameful way to treat people.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

National Newspaper Coverage

Yesterday the Guardian Newspaper plublished a very comprehensive report by journalist, Jon Henley, on the cricis facing the School Crossing Patrols service in the UK. The report explains very clearly the important role the Lollipop People play in keeping our children safe and the road accident statistics down. To read the full report follow this link

Thursday, 23 June 2011

A Letter to the Main Man

Having waited for a month for a reply to an email to David Cameron I conclude that there will not be one. Fair enough I suppose as he must get thousands if not hundreds of thousands of emails. Therefore I have written a proper letter which I shall post tomorrow and if you are reading this and know him please you can point it this out to him in case the letter gets lost in the mail.

Dear Prime Minister,

I am running a campaign that is concentrated in Dorset but extends across the country, seeking to halt the cuts by local authorities to the funding for School Crossing Patrol services. I wrote to you at the start of the campaign and your office referred me to the Department of Transport (letter 27th Jan).

I have been supported in my campaign by all national road safety organisations, as well as two local Dorset MPs, Annette Brook and Richard Drax, who spoke to Norman Baker on this subject in an adjournment debate in March. However, much as Mr Baker supported the very important and necessary role of these patrols he said that the responsibility for the funding lay with the local authorities and there was nothing he could do. (Transcript attached).

It was with considerable interest that I read about the launch of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety last month.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has joined F1 stars Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button to launch the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety in the UK. They launched the Decade of Action together with ten schoolchildren in a Downing Street photocall.
Wearing the road safety Tag for the Decade of Action, the Prime Minister said that road deaths now represent a major global concern and combating them must become a development priority:
“Every six seconds, someone is killed or seriously injured on the world's roads. Addressing this must be an urgent priority for the international community. In the United Kingdom, we have managed to make our roads amongst the safest in the world. Yet, despite this road accidents are still the leading cause of death for British teenagers and young adults – with the loss of six or seven people in road crashes every day.
“That's why I'm adding my voice to all those across the world who are coming together in support of the launch of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety.”
I trust that you stand by your words quoted above and fully support the aims of this world wide campaign.

If so, I am sure that you will recognise that the Government must take back from local authorities the responsibility for maintaining School Crossing Patrols to assure their future funding.

I do not see how you can be part of a global campaign for road safety and sit back and let these cuts take place, putting our children’s lives in danger. I would be most grateful for your thoughts on this subject and your intentions to ensure our roads remain the safest in the world.

Yours sincerely

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Unison Launch A Campaign to Save the Lollipop People

At this years annual conference in Manchester Unison announced that they would be launching a campaign to save school crossing patrols.
Despite clear evidence they save lives, they are not required by law and a quarter of councils are cutting their numbers. Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Cutting school crossing patrols puts children’s lives at risk.
“This is a false economy. Lollipop ladies and men are low-paid workers, earning less than £3,000. The Government needs to protect children by putting patrols on a legal footing.”
Unison is launching the campaign at the start of its annual conference in Manchester today, which is also the start of Child Safety Week. Caroline Perry, of charity Brake, said ministers should cut the number of children injured and killed on roads, “not make it worse”.
The full report is in the Mirror Newspaper. I am extremely pleased that finally a National body is taking up the challenge. I contacted Unison back in February and the wheels grind slowly, but they got there in the end. I hope they manage to do which I been unable to do and protect the service for the future by getting a committment from Government that despite it not being a statutory service is will be exempt from cuts.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

A Sad Week for Parents and Children in Staffordshire

Last Monday in Staffordshire a child was killed outside a school where there isn't a crossing patrol and then on Friday another child was injured outside another school without a crossing patrol. How anyone can seriously suggest that removing crossing patols to save money is an acceptable action when it is clear that children cannot judge the speed of cars on the road continue to get hit.

Friday, 17 June 2011

A BBC Survey

Local BBC reporters have been in touch with all 56 schools in Dorset that have school crossing patrols to ask if they are willing to pay for the service in the event that Dorset County Council cuts funding. Of the replies they received nearly 40 said no, 1 said they received local funding anyway and the rest were undecided. The BBC spoke to Peter Finney at County Hall who said that they weren't looking to cut the service but to find alternative funding. That in itself is a success, as the original stance was that the service will go unless non county funding is found. Mr Finney also suggested that funding might be sought by schools from local businesses. I agree that is an idea to look at but, it should not be for school staff/governor's to use their valuable time seeking funding which I know from personal experience is tedious and time-consuming, rather if that is the way County want to go they should set up a County Council paid group to seek funding for all schools from all over the County and in the current economic climate I think it will be a hard task to find money.

The whole report will be on three regions tonight at 6.30pm BBC South, BBC Southwest and BBC Bristol. This is prior to the next Planning Development Panel meeting on 27th June which is discussing the future of the service.

Monday, 13 June 2011

It's not about Politics it's about Money

Throughout this campaign I have been under the belief that this was somehow a Conservative led plot and if Labour was still in power they would not have been imposing cuts to local government that resulted in cuts to the the school crossing patrols and ultimately the risk of death to our children. I may be wrong on that score. Perhaps it is all about money, because the Labour controlled Brent Council in London is planning to axe 30 crossing patrols to save £200,000.

Are the Dorset School Crossing Patrols so poorly paid that 65 of them being axed saves the same amount as the 30 in London? I know there is a London allowance but is it that much?