City chiefs knock back lollipop patrol rescue bid

Lollipop men and women face cutbacks under the council's latest budget plans. Picture: Toby Williams
Lollipop men and women face cutbacks under the council's latest budget plans. Picture: Toby Williams
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A BID to reject controversial plans to cut school lollipop crossings was put forward by the Green Party yesterday – but knocked back by the council’s finance committee.

In an attempt to plug its £126 million funding gap, the city council has revealed it wants to withdraw school crossing patrol services at lunchtimes at 75 primary schools across the city.

Bosses believe this is when traffic is quieter and have said few, if any, pupils go home for lunch.

But the plans have caused concern in the community, with many concerned it will put children’s lives at risk.

Yesterday, Gavin Corbett, Green councillor for Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart, argued that the proposed removal of lunchtime crossings to save £104,000 in two years should be taken off the table.

He said: “This proposal to cut lunchtime lollipop services has come late in the day, two months after consultation on the budget started.

“The very least I would have expected is that the proposal would have clear evidence of the case for cutting the service.

“But there is no attempt to estimate the number of children using the crossings.

“Nor is there any assessment of what it will mean for hiring and keeping lollipop staff if current workers lose £120 a month off their already meagre pay packets.”

His proposal, at the finance and resources committee, was backed by all opposition councillors but the ruling Labour-SNP coalition decided that the proposal should remain along with plans for several other cuts. The committee voted 9-4 to keep it on the table.

Alison Johnstone, Lothian Green MSP, added: “I’m astonished that Labour and SNP councillors did not seize the opportunity to kick this cut into the long grass.

“Rather than waiting until late January when the council sets its budget, the council could have spared staff and parents two months of anxiety and made a clear decision now.

“Road safety for school children must be a top priority.”

Councillor Alasdair Rankin, finance convener, said: “This is a proposal which was put out for public consultation, along with around 70 others.

“At this point these are proposals and we will listen to feedback on all of them before any decisions are made.

“We want to hear what people think of the current suggestions. The changes were made last year resulting from comments from residents.”