ANGRY parents are urging schools across the borough to sign a petition to block Dudley Council’s “unpopular” plans to axe lollipop patrols.

The council is currently proposing to cut the crossing patrol costs from its budget by charging schools for the service.

However, school bosses believe their financial plans, which are already looking “increasingly difficult” will not be able to stretch to providing the crossing funds.

The proposed cuts has led the headteacher and governors from Thorns Primary School, in Quarry Bank, to create a borough-wide petition, asking Dudley Council to make savings elsewhere.

Kelly Round, a governor at the school, said if the plans go ahead the council will be putting children’s lives at “serious risk”.

She told the News: “We want the council to understand the risks of these plans. Our school is on a busy dual carriageway and the crossing patrols outside our school don’t just cross our children, but those of other local schools as well as Thorns Community College.

“It just seems that the council doesn’t care about the safety of children, so long as it saves them a bit of money.

“The council seems to thinks that schools have the money to take on the crossing patrols, but this is simply not the case. The managing of crossing patrols are completely different to that of a teacher of a teaching assistant.

“If we start being responsible for this, where will it stop? Will we have to fix the potholes outside of the schools as well?”

Councillor Hilary Bills, cabinet member for environmental services, said the safety of children is of “paramount importance” to the council, but the school’s “free crossing service” is being reviewed “due to ongoing funding cuts by central government”.

But David Priestley, headteacher of Thorns Primary, believes axing crossing patrols is the “wrong cut”. He added: “We understand the council needs to make cuts, but we are asking them to rethink their priorities.

“The council is a democratically elected body, so we want our councillors to realise how unpopular the removal of crossing patrol will be.

“School budgets are looking increasingly difficult this year, and adding crossing patrol costs onto them would inevitably impact on the employment and academic standards.

“So far our petition has received a good response from other schools, I had six replies immediately after I wrote to the headteachers in the borough, as they have the same opinion as I do.”

The crossing patrol cuts will be put before Dudley Council’s corporate scrutiny committee on Thursday, November 17, before moving on to the full council in December.

Cllr Bills said: “Historically, the council has provided a free school crossing patrol service to schools in the borough, but unfortunately, this service like many other non-statutory services is being reviewed due to ongoing funding cuts by central government.

“Dudley is not the first authority to impose charging schools for their school crossing patrol service and whilst we will do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition, the unprecedented financial challenges we are experiencing means that front line services will continue to be affected.

“The safety of children is of paramount importance to the council and we will work closely with schools and governors over the coming months.”

Click here to sign the petition.