CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after controversial plans to withdraw funding for school crossing patrols were scrapped by Dudley Council.

The cash-strapped council aimed to save £395,000 a year by charging schools for the non-statutory service before making a major U-turn.

Following a petition signed by almost 9,000 protesting parents and strong opposition from schools and borough residents, the plans have been put on hold for the at least a year.

Kelly Round, governor at Thorns Primary School and lead petitioner, said: “We are really pleased with the outcome, but we will not stop with our campaign.

“We now need to really work with the council to come up with a long term solution that will benefit everyone.”

The school’s headteacher David Priestley added: “I am pleased the council have considered the information and strength of opinion against these cuts.

“The decision now gives everyone time to consider options more carefully.”

Council bosses have vowed to continue providing the funding for the 60 borough schools that currently use the crossing patrol service – at an estimated average of £30 per pupil.

Councillor Hilary Bills, cabinet member for environmental services, said: “The proposal to explore alternative funding with schools for the service was not something we proposed lightly, which is why we undertook the original consultation to see whether this was viable.

“Some residents have asked us to continue to fund the service, and while both local authorities and schools continue to face challenges as a result of reduced government funding, we have listened to their concerns and have found a way to fund the service for at least a further year as part of a healthy schools initiative.”

Over the next 12 months, while the funding is in place, the council's public health team will be working with schools, children and parents to establish how many youngsters currently walk to school, what would encourage more to do so and what role the school crossing patrols play in enabling children to walk to school.

The council will continue to consult schools and all political groups to see how the service can be made sustainable in the long -term and will submit a revised crossing patrol funding proposal to the scrutiny committee later in the year.