Hampshire County Council launches consultation over plans to axe school crossing patrols including those in Blackfield, Holbury and Lyndhurst
New Forest school crossing patrols are under threat in the latest county cutback plans, leaving parents fearing for their children’s safety.
Patrols in Blackfield, Holbury and Lyndhurst are among 26 which could be axed to save Hampshire County Council £1.1m a year.
HCC currently funds 184 school crossing patrols (SCPs) but is making cuts across its services as it looks to plug a financial black hole of £132m by 2026.
Those at risk include patrols at Exbury Road and Hampton Lane in Blackfield, Studley Avenue and Lime Kiln Lane in Holbury, and High Street, Lyndhurst.
Michelle Thompson, whose two children attend Manor Infant School and regularly use the crossing, told the A&T removing the patrols would endanger children.
She explained: “The crossing patroller, Mrs Woody, is nothing short of fantastic.
“She knows all children by their names and chats to them as they cross.
“She’s always there to talk to our eldest boy who will run ahead and see her, and we know he’s safe because she won’t let the children cross until their adult is there and ready to cross too.
“Our youngest child has just started school. He’s autistic and non-verbal, but she talks to him every day.
“For him, waiting at the side of the road to cross is a big deal, especially on a road like that which is busy.
“I would struggle to keep him waiting on the pavement for a longer period of time, whereas at the moment we get to the crossing and we can cross promptly with the help of the crossing patroller.
“I cannot believe it would even be a suggestion to remove these patrols and endanger our children’s safety.”
Waterside parent Leona Poole called the cuts “ridiculous” and said that “nobody sticks to the speed limit” near Cadland School in Holbury, despite the road having a 30mph limit.
“It is an accident waiting to happen”, she added.
Leona said her son Graham often uses the crossing patrol to walk from school to his grandmother’s house nearby while she is at work.
If the crossing patrol was axed, she would have to cut her hours at work to collect him from school, she said.
“So for one household it will be hours cut, Nan doesn’t get her visits, our son misses his independence and more shockingly our lovely patrol lady loses her job.
“I can't believe this is happening – it's crazy.”
Further to the 26 which could be axed, another 154 patrol sites would be reviewed under the council’s plans, to see how they could be made safer.
The council said changes to roads, improving signs, installing traffic islands, changing speed limits, or installing traffic lights could be introduced to replace the patrols.
Another parent concerned about the cuts, a mum of two who wanted to remain anonymous, told the A&T: “We use the crossing every day and would be lost without the lollipop lady.
“There are quite a few kids that walk themselves to Cadland and with it being such a busy road, it would be so dangerous without her there.
“I wasn’t aware she was at risk; it’s the first I’ve heard of it.”
She added: “They may save a few quid, but they will gain more accidents – so higher costs in the NHS services, road closures, and worst of all, potential deaths to our young children.
“If they want to take away the lollipop lady, there needs to be a traffic light there. It is not safe for primary children to cross there without guidance.”
The public consultation ends on 31st March. To take part visit www.hants.gov.uk/aboutthecouncil/haveyoursay