A call to bring back pa­trollers Indies want Nats to re­in­state axed jobs

Hamilton Advertiser - - ALL ABOUT LANARKSHIRE - Shirley Bar­tynek

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil’s in­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lors have this week called on the SNP ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­in­state the 20 axed cross­ing pa­trollers in the area.

The lo­cal au­thor­ity agreed, as part of the bud­get process in Fe­bru­ary 2017, to axe the pa­trollers as part of a £100,000 sav­ings ex­er­cise.

How­ever the in­de­pen­dent group on South La­nark­shire Coun­cil – which in­cludes coun­cil­lors Jackie Burns, Mar­garet Cooper, Joe Lowe, Jim Ward­haugh and Sheena Ward­haugh – say that hav­ing read the au­di­tors’ re­port last week and noted re­serves of £98 mil­lion, they are call­ing for the re­cent de­ci­sion to with­draw the cross­ing pa­trollers to be re­versed.

The in­de­pen­dents say they now plan to write to the lead­ers of all groups in the coun­cil to sup­port their po­si­tion.

Larkhall coun­cil­lor Jackie Burns said: “I have at­tended a num­ber of meet­ings with par­ents and this is a cut too far.

Five out of the 20 cross­ing pa­trols are be­ing re­voked in the Larkhall and Ashgill area.

“In Ashgill this was the only cross­ing pa­troller in the vil­lage. When the new Dalserf Pri­mary School opened in 2011, the coun­cil put in a cross­ing pa­troller on a tem­po­rary ba­sis for three months.

“Due to poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the coun­cil depart­ments, this pa­troller re­mained in place for six years. The coun­cil has raised the ex­pec­ta­tion of the peo­ple of Ashgill that this pa­troller was jus­ti­fied.

“With in­creased house­build­ing and vol­umes of traf­fic go­ing through Ashgill, the risks to chil­dren will in­crease.

“We have asked that the £100,000 to cut the cross­ing pa­trollers should be taken from the re­serves.”

Gor­don Mackay, head of Roads and Trans­porta­tion at South La­nark­shire Coun­cil, said: “Even though there is no statu­tory obli­ga­tion to pro­vide school cross­ing pa­trols, we have con­tin­ued to fund this ser­vice at a sig­nif­i­cant leve,

“In fact, fig­ures show that South La­nark­shire pro­vides the sec­ond­high­est level of fund­ing of all 32 coun­cils in Scot­land this ser­vice.

“In to­tal, we con­tinue to in­vest some £1.2mil­lion in school cross­ing pa­trollers each year, mean­ing that we spend more per head of pop­u­la­tion than 30 of the 31 other coun­cils in Scot­land, in­clud­ing four of the five that have big­ger pop­u­la­tions than we do.

“How­ever, there is no es­cap­ing the fi­nan­cial cli­mate we are forced to live in and ev­ery­one is aware that the coun­cil has had to crit­i­cally re­view all ar­eas of ser­vice pro­vi­sion, es­pe­cially those we are of­fer­ing over and above our le­gal re­quire­ments.

“Fol­low­ing a re­view of the ser­vice, a num­ber of pa­trollers were re­moved where it was ap­pro­pri­ate to do so.

“These pre­dom­i­nantly cover lo­ca­tions where there is a small num­ber of chil­dren us­ing the pa­trollers.

“Risk as­sess­ments were car­ried out in ad­vance at ev­ery lo­ca­tion where it was pro­posed to re­move a pa­troller to en­sure that roads could still be crossed safely pro­vided that rea­son­able care is taken and that chil­dren are ac­com­pa­nied by an adult if re­quired.” in de­liv­er­ing

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