Campaigner warns Brent Council school crossing patrols cull could kill

Children and adults protest against plans to axe the lollipop lady outside Leopold School in Harlesd

Children and adults protest against plans to axe the lollipop lady outside Leopold School in Harlesden - Credit: Archant

A campaigner has warned that the number of children killed on Brent’s roads will increase if plans to axe all lollipop men and women in the borough are given the green light.

Cllr Michael Pavey

Cllr Michael Pavey - Credit: Archant

Michelle Goldsmith issued the warning after the first round of rubber-stamping £54million worth cuts by Brent Council were waved through by the town hall’s cabinet yesterday evening.

The controversial proposals include getting rid of every school crossing patrol officers to save £177,000 a year.

Ms Goldsmith, who launched a petition against the plans which gained 472 signatures, spoke out at the meeting.

She said: “I appreciate that these are difficult times with huge cuts in funding, but cutting road safety services too far will mean more people being killed or injured.

“Apart from the human cost, it just doesn’t make financial sense – road accidents can cost millions of pounds so preventing them saves millions of pounds.”

She added: “Road traffic accidents are the biggest killer of children in the UK and the Brent Safer Roads says you’re 10 times more likely to have an accident outside your school.”

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However, Cllr George Crane, Brent Council’s lead member for environment, argued that out of 141 child pedestrian casualties and one fatality in Brent between 2011 and 2014 none ‘occurred near a school’.

Once the plans are finalised schools will have to dip into their own funds if they wish to maintain crossing patrols outside their gates.

Cllr Michael Pavey, deputy leader of Brent Council, said schools in the borough had millions of pounds in slush funds which would enable them to pay for their own patrol officers.

He said: “We do not want to cut school crossing patrols but when we have to cut £54m and at the same time our schools are sitting on surplus of £17m, £5m more than the council’s own reserves, it should be schools not the council funding crossing patrols.”

Other casualties of the cuts which will affect children in Brent include Stonebridge Adventure Playground in Shakespeare Road, Stonebridge, and the Welsh Harp Education Centre (WHEC) in Birchen Grove, Kingsbury.

Both will have their funding removed leading to their imminent closure.

The council also plan to increase parking charges, install extra traffic cameras and introduce an annual £40 green waste charge to bring in extra funds.

Cllr Pavey said: “They will be unpopular but they are the price for protecting the front line services”.

He added: “These are not our cuts, these are government cuts. The public consultation we held was not a political stunt; it was a genuine listening exercise.

“We will continue to engage and we will continue to listen.

The full council will vote on the cuts next Monday but councillors are under no obligation to vote.

Cllr Sandra Kabir, Brent Council’s chief whip, told the Times: “Nobody can be forced to vote against the budget they don’t want. But the budget was made starting from August, over the summer, over many, many sessions with the councillors, so everyone is very aware of what’s in the budget.”

Asked if councillors would be disciplined if they voted against the cuts she said: “Not necessarily no.”

Related links: Broadcaster Louis Theroux backs campaign against plans to axe lollipop lady at Harlesden school