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Labour belatedly attacks lollipop cuts

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LABOUR has said reinstating axed school crossing patrols will be a "priority" if it wins next year's council elections.

Friday the last day at work for ten lollipop men and women being made redundant by the council to save £60,000.

Labour has belatedly voiced its opposition, more than six months after they were first announced.

This week, Labour leader Tony Newman said: "This is an appalling decision that will see children's lives put in danger."

Cllr Newman's scathing comments are in stark contrast to the party's position since the cuts were put forward in December.

It did not attempt to oppose plans at the town hall, no objections were received from any Labour councillor during the consultation process, and it would not back an Advertiser campaign against the cuts.

Cllr Newman said the party had not voiced its concern because it was convinced the cuts would be dropped.

"There were various indications from within town hall the council would see common sense," he said.

"Then, a few weeks ago, it decided to sack these lollipop people. There has been a wave of public anger.

"We're approaching the last day of term and I would hope this opposition, even at this late stage, with five or six weeks to reflect, might be an opportunity for the council to have a rethink."

The ten patrols are on zebra or automated crossings outside, or near, primary schools.

When asked whether he would reverse the cuts if Labour wins next May, Cllr Newman issued a qualified pledge.

"Yes," he replied. "If parents wish them to be reinstated and the money is there, then we will reinstate them. But we're still trying to get to the bottom of what the budget gap is going to be.

"What I can't do is promise we will reinstate them on day one, but clearly this is a priority."

He added: "Parents should be the judge here. Neither I, nor council officers, should decide. The parents know about the traffic conditions at their school and if they think their children are best served by a crossing patrol, then absolutely we would support them."

Parent governor Jo Wittams, who led the campaign to save the two lollipop people outside Broadmead and The Crescent Primary schools, was surprised by the party's late opposition.

"While I'm baffled by the timing, I welcome the intervention and I'm relieved to hear that Labour is committed to restoring these vital patrols," she said.

Any hope that the council will reverse its decision at this late stage looks forlorn, however.

Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, said: "We're at a point where we have to look at every discretionary service. The decision has been taken and we're going to go through with it."

Labour belatedly attacks lollipop cuts


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