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No lollipop u-turn despite Bromley Council underspend

PUBLISHED: 13:29 19 April 2012

David Cook fears for children's lives if the patrol stops

David Cook fears for children's lives if the patrol stops

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Teachers and lollipop patrols have hit out at Bromley Council for continuing to axe school crossing patrols despite making unexpected savings of £273,000 - enough to cover their costs.

The council was accused of risking children’s lives when it made the controversial decision to cut patrol funding in all Bromley schools, saving £233,000 in 2012/13.

Now it is refusing to backtrack despite the surprise underspend in the environment budget, which would be more than enough to cover lollipop salaries this year.

Lollipop man David Cook, in charge of a crossing in Westmoreland Road, used by three schools, fears for children’s lives if he is made redundant in the future.

He said: “There’s going to be kids getting killed down there if the patrols stop.”

David will keep his job for another year at least as St Mark’s Primary School, Bromley, managed to raise enough money to keep the patrol.

It is one of 31 schools that entered a council scheme giving them a £2,000 subsidy from TfL towards the cost of a patrol, provided they could fundraise the remainder. Schools unable to raise the money lost their patrols in March.

Worsley Bridge Junior School, Beckenham, used to have a lollipop lady. Headteacher Jacky Pike said: “We couldn’t fund her. I phoned local businesses for sponsorship but they couldn’t help.

“It’s disgusting that the council isn’t reversing cuts now they have the money.”

The underspend is a result of the council spending less than expected on winter maintenance because of mild weather and running costs in transport, highways and traffic.

Axing school crossing patrol funding was part of huge cuts to all departments, first announced in 2011 due to central government’s national deficit reduction.

Cllr Colin Smith, for environment, said: “Balancing dual objectives by driving out value for money at every opportunity remains our absolute key objective.”

A council spokesman insisted the council would not back down because “a budget is a budget”. The underspend is to be discussed at a council meeting on Tuesday.

Bromley which has more than £50million is renowned for being a frugal council- it spends the least per head each year out of any London local authority.

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