Argyll & Bute Council: More cuts needed

School crossing patrols would be axed under council proposals to bridge the funding gap
School crossing patrols would be axed under council proposals to bridge the funding gap

The leader of Argyll and Bute Council has branded proposed cuts by the authority as “undesirable”, but added that more savings will need to be identified.

Councillor Aileen Morton was responding to a report which listed a number of ideas for the 2019/20 budget, including the possible removal of school ‘lollipop’ crossing patrol services.

Kirsty Flanagan, the head of strategic finance, had reported that a transformation board had identified the potential savings methods to bridge a sizeable funding gap. But after the Scottish Government’s proposed budget was unveiled, it was claimed that the council may need to find further savings.

Councillor Morton said at the recent meeting of the policy and resources committee: “I have had communications from a few people on one issue in particular.

“But that is part of the normal process. People will get in touch and tell you their concerns. I am going to move that the committee also notes that a lot of these savings proposals are undesirable, but due to the Scottish Government announcement, more savings will need to be identified.”

Councillor Richard Trail sought to have the recommendations kept as they were – namely that savings proposals were endorsed, policy options were noted and the transformation board were allowed to continue to pursue long-term options.

However, he was defeated by seven votes to four in favour of Councillor Morton’s amendment.

Meanwhile, The proposals to axe the school crossing patrols have received a furious reaction on social media.

And currently-serving lollipop patrollers, while stopping short of criticising the move, highlighted the importance of their posts.

Sharon Rice posted: “I am one of the lollipop ladies at Colgrain and I am also the parent of a child who uses another school crossing.

“My child is quite capable of crossing roads without a lollipop person but at the peak times the traffic is so busy that adults struggle to cross.

“The purpose of a school crossing patroller is to step out and stop traffic to allow the children to cross. If we are not there then the traffic keeps going and going and going, when will your kids ever get across?

“Will they wait for what they think is a suitable break in the traffic or will they chance it and dash across? And will they make it in time?

“I’ve had adults do this at my crossing and there have been a few near misses as they have misjudged the speed of the cars.”

Lindsay McSporran added: “I am the current crossing patroller at Colgrain Primary and I must say the kids have more road awareness than the actual drivers on the road that are ‘legal’ to be on the road!

“It’s not the kids that need to be taught the Highway Code it’s the drivers. I’ve been there over a year now but the number of people who do not slow down while I’m on the road, or the ones who proceed to drive past as I am walking off the road, is scary.

“If they are willing to do this when I am in hi-vis clothing then what are they capable of with kids who are not?”