• Devon County Council launches school crossing patrol consultation

    3rd December 2015 | News | Claire
  • A consultation reviewing how school crossing patrols should be funded and provided in the county is being launched by Devon County Council.

    The authority is exploring ways to maintain the service while looking to save £250,000 from the service’s budget in the coming financial year. It is part of £110 million of savings required over the next four years.

    Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We know how highly school communities value the crossing patrols. The County Council holds them in equally high regard and we want to do everything possible to help the service continue. However, the difficulty we’re facing is further cuts being imposed upon us by central Government and services which are not statutory are those coming under the closest scrutiny.”

    The County Council’s road safety service currently employs 80 School Crossing Patrols, covering around a quarter of all schools in the county at a cost of £200,000 per year, with a further £150,000 spent on support, training and administration.

    Feedback from initial consultations over the past nine months has shown that if school communities paid for crossing patrols, they would prefer to have a third party service provider employing and managing the patrol, rather than employing them directly.

    Consultation is being held directly with schools and also with the wider community through the Tough Choices website. Schools are being asked for their view on proposals for school communities to pay for their own crossing patrol. Patrols are also being written to and are being kept informed of the process.

    “We are looking to strike a balance between achieving the required savings while ensuring that a crossing patrol service remains in place for the benefit of schools wishing to have a patrol,” Councillor Hughes added.

    “Following initial consultations with schools that currently have patrols, and also with the Devon Association of Primary Head Teachers, we’re proposing that school communities pay for School Crossing Patrols, with the patrols and administration employed by a separate organisation. However, Devon would retain the legal duty to ensure adequate support and training is provided to patrols to maintain appropriate standards.

    “We want to hear from all schools and parents, especially those who may use a school crossing patrol, so that we can explore all of the alternative options available to us before any decision is made on how the future service will be run.

    “Ultimately, the responsibility of getting children to school rests with parents, but we fully accept that the presence of patrols plays a part in the travel choices made by parents. Whatever the future provision of crossing patrols looks like, we remain committed to doing all we can to keep our highway network safe for everyone.”

    School Crossing Patrols are not a statutory service for the County Council and if provision was to change, schools currently with a patrol would be under no obligation to continue using the service.

    Devon County Council has the legal right to appoint patrols and ensure adequate support and training, and the Council would continue to provide the support necessary to enable the continuation of a safe service, which meets required standards. If the administrative function is removed then school crossing patrols cannot be provided.

    The latest consultation closes on 8 January 2016 and the results will be used to inform a report to Cabinet early in 2016.

    More information on the consultation is available here. – See more at: https://www.devonnewscentre.info/school-crossing-patrol-consultation-launched/#sthash.OWLbBHxO.dpuf