Cash-strapped local councils have already got rid of 1,549 crossing wardens since 2013!

 

Safety campaigners are warning that as a result of a 22% drop in crossing wardens, lives could be at risk near schools.

According to figures, the number of lollipop ladies outside schools in the UK have dropped dramatically since 2013, as cash-strapped councils cut more than 1,500 warden jobs to save money.

Currently, there are 1,549 fewer council-funded crossing wardens than there was back in 2013 and campaigners worry that the end of the lollipop lady could ‘jeopardise’ lives near schools.

The BBC sent a Freedom of Information request to every local authority and discovered the number of crossing wardens had dropped from 7,010 in 2013 to 5,461 in 2018.

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Could this be the end of the lollipop lady outside schools? © Copyright Eirian Evans and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Around 85% of councils who responded said they’d cut numbers over the past five years, whilst just 7% had done the opposite and increased them.

The London borough of Hounslow is one of the worst, as they went from employing 22 wardens in 2013 to just two, who have to cover an area that has 25,000 primary school pupils arriving and leaving school every week day.

Newcastle City Council has ‘reluctantly’ reduced its crossing warden numbers from 64 in 2013 to seven, blaming the drop on a cut in funding.

The largest education authority in the UK is in Kent, where the council currently employs 137 wardens – five years ago they employed 258 crossing wardens. They claim to have struggled to find staff to take up the vacant posts and built pelican or zebra crossings instead at a number of sites.

Birmingham City Council have said they may remove all their crossing wardens by not finding a replacement once they retire or leave the job. Schools and parents are being asked by the council to step in and help raise funds for more wardens, with uniforms, training and supervision being provided by the council.

According to the road safety charity Brake, the cuts in crossing wardens are ‘jeopardising lives’.

“Last year, 1,638 children were killed or seriously injured while cycling or walking on British roads, that’s more than four families receiving devastating news every day,” said spokesman for the charity Joshua Harris, adding: “We need action now, with investment in safe crossings for children, more investment in cycling and walking infrastructure and 20mph speed limits.”

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “Many councils have been forced to review this discretionary service due to significant pressures on their budgets and increasing demand for statutory services.”

 

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