North Lopham school relieved after county council U-turn on crossing patrol cuts

The North Lopham community protested the proposed cuts to their road crossing patrol service in December 2016. Photo by Thomas Malina.

The North Lopham community protested the proposed cuts to their road crossing patrol service in December 2016. Photo by Thomas Malina.

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Less than two months ago, North Lopham feared its school ‘lollipop lady’ was about to disappear — but now it is celebrating after Norfolk County Council’s ‘U-turn’ on proposed cuts last week.

The county council’s Children’s Services Committee rejected a proposal to cut funding for more than a third of Norfolk’s school road crossing patrols, after strong opposition from the 38 schools — including St Andrew’s Primary School in North Lopham — that would have been affected.

Services for all schools will now continue as they are for the 2017/18 financial year, at an estimated total cost of £269,530.

Melissa Mitchell, deputy headteacher at St Andrew’s Primary School, told the Diss Express: “It was fairly obvious it (the proposal) was not a very good idea. Us getting together and putting pressure on it has helped keep our children safe.

“There was the assumption it would be pushed through. However, the consultation has been listened to, and it’s excellent news for the pupils and the staff.”

Advocates for decreasing the number of services said the cuts were needed due to continuing budget pressures, and they claimed many of the schools did not require them due to a low volume of traffic and pupil footfall.

However, primary schools argue losing the patrols would compromise safety, and discourage children from walking to school, hampering efforts to promote healthier living.

It is expected that county councillors will reevaluate the issue next year, and Miss Mitchell said the school would look out for any future plans that threaten to remove their patrol.

“If it comes up again, we will oppose it just the same,” she added.

“It’s a bad idea. Eventually, we will get it across that these lollipop ladies do save children’s lives.”