Lollipop patrols faces chop just months after reprieve

Picture: Kenny Smith
Picture: Kenny Smith
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FRESH fears have been raised over the future of the Capital’s lollipop patrols – just months after they were saved from the axe.

City chiefs are set to spend £62,000 to bring in a transport troubleshooter to review the current service, sparking concerns it could be hacked back.

The overhaul would be the first of its kind in 20 years and comes after cost-cutting plans to reduce patrols were rejected at the start of this year.

Bosses had proposed scrapping lunchtime lollipop guides at 75 primary schools, but ditched the proposals in January following a public backlash.

A report by officials, which will go before councillors next week, said the latest review would help bring the current service “in line with best practice across other local authorities”.

The council’s 157 lollipop guards are paid less than £100 a week.

Councillor Iain Whyte, who represents the Inverleith ward, said the move would cause “great concern” to parents who thought the issue had gone away. He said: “Lollipop patrols are a vital service for many, and they allow children to walk and cycle to school when they would not otherwise be able to do so.

“It seems an awful lot of money to carry out what you would think was a relatively simple review, which comes when we are looking to save money internally.”

And Green councillor Gavin Corbett said: “I don’t have any problem with a review if that is about ensuring that the crossing patrol service is keeping pace with where the road safety hotspots are likely to be.

“However, I’d query why the council needs to spend £62,000 on outside consultants when there must be enough existing staff knowledge to carry out the review. That would leave the £62,000 to be spent on actual lollipop staff on the ground.

“The ink is still wet on the council’s budget this year, which rejected cuts to the lollipop service, so there is no way that this review should be cuts by the back door.”

In their report, officials insist a review of lollipop patrols is needed to determine the number of pedestrians using the service and the number of vehicles on the roads they cross – as well as to “identify and quantify existing and potential risks”.

They argue employing outside consultants for £62,000 would be cheaper and quicker than carrying out a review internally.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, said: “This is our first review in almost 20 years so it’s really time we developed criteria to bring us into line with other councils, ensuring our resources are prioritised and used in areas where they’re needed.

“Procuring external consultants to carry out the review will cost considerably less than an internal analysis, and carrying out the assessment within a focused time period will guarantee quick and reliable results.”