Castlereagh Alliance Councillor Michael Long has expressed his anger at reports that the South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) are
proposing to cut 87 school crossing patrols as part of a cost cutting exercise. Cllr. Long, who has lobbied for improved conditions for crossing patrol staff, having highlighted the huge number of vacancies in the SEELB area, has demanded that the Board rethink their apparent decision which he believes would put the lives of pupils at risk.
Cllr. Long said: “I am appalled to hear these reports that the SEELB are proposing cutting crossing patrol services. Having spent the last few years demanding improvements in pay and conditions for lollipop people, due to the large number of long term vacancies in the SEELB area, I am angry that the Board are apparently proposing further cuts to the service.
“In the Wynchurch area, one post lay vacant for 7 years before finally being filled last autumn. Having worked hard with local residents and schools to finally get that position filled I know how much parents appreciate the crossing patrol staff, who provide much needed peace of mind that children are safe on their way to and from schools.
“In fact, Alliance has argued that far from cutting jobs and making financial savings, it is time that pay and conditions were improved for these people who provide such a valuable service often in inclement weather.
“Cutting patrols, having removal free transport for many pupils in the Board area, would seem to be completely contrary to Government policy which is meant to get rid of the ‘school run’ and encourage children to walk, cycle and use public transport instead. How can such aim be taken seriously if the financial backing and infrastructure are not in place to help parents make those choices?
“I recognise the financial pressures facing all of the Boards at this point, but I would appeal to the Board to rethink their decision as it could result in children’s lives being put at risk.”