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Midland schools told they must cough up for lollipop wardens

Union claims Birmingham council told staff they will lose jobs unless cash is found

(Image: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

School crossing wardens have been told they will lose their jobs unless schools agree to pay for them out of their own budgets, a union has claimed.

Birmingham City Council is set to make a decision on funding lollipop wardens next month, saying it was trying to find different ways to finance patrols.

But the GMB union said the 180 staff have already been told they will be made redundant unless schools pay £5,100 a year towards the cost.

And concerns have been raised that children’s lives could be put at risk because of lack of supervision crossing the roads.

Last December, the city council announced that school crossing patrols would be axed as part of a £250 million cuts package over the next four years. Council chiefs expect to save £881,000 by cutting lollipop wardens.

Gill Whittaker, of the GMB, said: “We ran a campaign last year to save the jobs of the lollipop wardens. The successful campaign gathered huge support from the public resulting in Birmingham City Council agreeing to keep wardens at priority sites.

“The council pledged to continue to directly employ around 180 school crossing patrol wardens working on sites where there is an identified high risk. It is disappointing that they now appear to have done a U-turn, so the wardens are again at risk of redundancy.”

The GMB added: “Statistics gathered in 2014 showed that, out of 2,628 road accidents recorded in Birmingham, only five occurred near crossings operated by School Crossing Patrol Wardens. GMB are very concerned that this figure will increase if the wardens are cut.

“The public will not appreciate the council reneging on an agreement to protect School Crossing Patrol Wardens working in high risk areas.

“GMB will always fight to protect vital public services. We think that keeping children alive and well is an absolute priority.”

Councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “What we are trying to do is find different ways to fund school crossing patrols. That could be money that comes from schools individually paying for them.

“It could be businesses paying for them and we are looking at setting up a school safety trust whereby businesses and other local employers would be able to put money towards the safety of our children locally.

“We are also not just looking at school crossing patrols when it comes to road safety – it’s important to realise that they are just one piece of a massive jigsaw of road safety.

“We have put over £400 million in the last few years into other measures like 20mph zones, improved cycle ways and safer routes to school schemes, that are there 24/7 to protect people.

“We are going to be looking at every individual site to look at the existing road safety measures that we have invested in and also whether there are additional things we could be putting in before any decision on withdrawing any individual patrols will be made.”

“But hopefully we will be looking through different ways of funding them differently and we may even be able to fund an increase in school crossing patrols through the new school safety trust idea.”

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