LOLLIPOP men and ladies across Southampton are under threat with school crossing patrols threatened with the axe.

Cash-strapped city council chiefs have asked schools to help fund 49 patrols that they currently run free of charge - or they will disappear.

The council, which earlier this week approved £21m of savings and put forward £8m of new proposals in its budget, says it is only fair for schools to pay a contribution with the grant funding from Government dwindling.

However road safety charities, opposition councillors and some schools have hit out at the plans, saying they are “dangerous” and contrary to plans to get less people using cars.

Currently the council offers a range of services to schools which are either free or partly paid-for.

However, documents seen by the Daily Echo show there is currently a £736,000 deficit between the amount the council pays for the services and the amount brought in in income.

Other services which could see charges introduced include library and music services and educational psychology.

Labour education chief Dan Jeffery, pictured inset right, said the council is currently in negotiations with schools about their contributions and a decision is due later this year.

He said: “Because the service is an expensive one to run, we think that schools should help us make a contribution to that.”

The 49 crossing patrols at 46 infant and junior schools are currently offered free of charge. School crossing patrol staff earn around £5,000 per year.

There are currently 42 lollipop men or women and eight posts which are vacant, costing the council £208,000 a year.

Cllr Jeffery continued: “This isn’t about us charging more, it’s about a service that we are losing money for that we are trying to reclaim the full cost.

“We haven’t made a final decision yet in terms of the final rates we are going to be charging the schools.

“We think it’s a fair ask that schools should make a contribution to the service.”

He admitted that if agreements on funding could not be reached with individual schools with £5,000 a patrol currently being proposed, the services would stop.

The move has been criticised, with Conservative opposition leader Jeremy Moulton saying: “I think it’s dangerous.

“They are doing an important job to keep children safe and they are not going to be there because of the funding being withdrawn, which will increase the risk for children going to school.

“The council is also trying to encourage children to walk or cycle to school, and the government has given them so much money for the My Journey programme and green travel, and they are now going to take the patrols away.

“This will make parents think twice about letting their children walk to school, as well as being dangerous and counter-productive.”

Rashid Brora, the chair of governors at Mount Pleasant Junior School, said: “The school road crossing patrol is absolutely vital, it is an important requirement because the road is quite busy and a lot of lorries use it. “If the council is going to pass that funding onto use and say it is your responsibility and we are not going to give you any additional funding it will affect something else in the school.

“All schools are being funded to take care of the children, if you are going to remove money from the schools somethings are likely to suffer.”

Dave Nichols, a spokesman for road safety charity Brake, called on the council to think again, saying: “School crossing patrols provide a vital service by helping children cross roads safely and offer that friendly face that encourages active and sustainable travel.

“With almost half of children aged five to 10 years walking to school, we need to do everything we can to encourage the other half to feel safe enough to get by on foot.

“We appreciate local authorities are feeling the full pinch of budget cuts, but they still have a duty to promote the use of sustainable transport, including for children on their way to school.”

Patrol Location - School

  • Waterloo Road/Outside School - Freemantle Academy
  • Paynes Road/Queenstown Road - Freemantle Academy
  • English Road/Heysham Road - Foundry Lane Primary
  • Lordswood Road/Upper Hill Lane - Hollybrook Infants
  • Golden Grove - St Marys Primary
  • Wimpson Lane/Mansel Rd East - Mason Moor Primary
  • Bellemoor/Wilton Road - Shirley Infants
  • Mansbridge Road/Howards Close - Mansbridge Primary
  • Daisy Road/Honeysuckle Road - Bassett Green Primary
  • Derby Road/Denzil Avenue - Mount Pleasant Junior
  • Manor Farm/Wellington Road - Bitterne Park Inf & Jun
  • Radstock Road/Ludlow Road - Ludlow Inf & Jun
  • Mousehole Lane/Glenfield Avenue - Glenfield Inf & Beechwood Jun
  • Fairfax Court/Hinkler Road - Kanes Hill Primary
  • Middle Road/Heath Road - Sholing Inf & Jun & Sec
  • Middle Road/Heath Road - Sholing Inf & Jun & Sec
  • Bay Road/Kathleen Road - St Monica Junior
  • Woodmill Lane/Manor Farm Road - Bitterne Park Inf & Jun
  • Glenfield Avenue - Beechwood Junior
  • Kathleen Road/South East Road - St Monica Junior
  • Oaktree/ Wellington Road South - Bitterne Park Infant
  • Athelston/Garfield Road South - Bitterne Manor Primary
  • King George Avenue/Stanton Road - Tanners Brook Inf & Jun
  • Meggeson Avenue/Benhams Road - Townhill Inf & Jun
  • Merry Oak Road/Merry Oak Green - Sholing Inf & Jun
  • Warburton Road /Tunstall Road  - Hightown Primary
  • Newtown Road - Weston Park Infant
  • Obelisk Road/Oak Road - Woolston Infant
  • Mount Pleasant Road/Imperial Road - Mount Pleasant Junior
  • Bishops/Peverill Road - Ludlow Inf & Jun
  • South East Road/Chapel Crescent - St Monica Junior
  • Somerset/Cheriton Avenue - Harefield Primary
  • Welbeck/Shaftesbury Ave - Portswood Primary
  • Milton Road - Springhill Catholic Primary
  • Obelisk Road/West Road - Woolston Infant
  • Mansel Road West/ Maplin Road - Mansel Junior
  • Gardners Arms/Newtown Road - Weston Park Primary
  • Weston Lane/Outside School - Weston Park Primary
  • Manor Road South/Portchester Road - Ludlow Inf & Jun
  • Townhill Way / Cutbush Lane - Townhill Jun & Moorland Inf
  • Mayfield Road/Woodcote Road - Swaythling Primary
  • Peartree Avenue/Brownlow Avenue - Bitterne CE Inf & Jun
  • Botley Road/Dawson Road - Valentine Inf & Heathfield Jun
  • Byron/Hinkler Road - Thornhill Primary
  • Cranbury/Derby Road - Maytree Nursery & Infant
  • Valentine Avenue - Valentine Infant
  • Mansel Road West - Holy Family RC Primary
  • Sandpiper Road - Oakwood Primary
  • Windemere Avenue/Ullswater Road - Newlands Primary