Suffolk: MP Gummer hopes to save school crossings

IPSWICH: MP Ben Gummer is today hoping to set up talks with ministers in an attempt to save school crossing patrols across the county.

The law says that school crossing patrols have to be employed by the county council or the police authority to have the authority to stop traffic.

That prevents schools themselves or parents from running their own patrols – and makes it difficult for sponsored patrols like that proposed at Sidegate Primary – to operate.

However, Mr Gummer has taken up the regulations with the Department of Transport and he is hoping that a meeting with junior minister Mike Penning will allow the change.

At present, the proposed Sidegate sponsored patrol will continue to be paid by the county council, but the cost will be paid to the county by sponsors Jonathan Waters estate agency.

County councillor with responsibility for transport, Guy McGregor, told yesterday’s meeting of Suffolk’s cabinet that he hoped Mr Gummer would persuade the government to make the change.

Before the meeting, he accepted a petition from school crossing patrol staff fromIpswich and Waveney.

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Around 6,600 people have signed petitions outside schools in Ipswich and Waveney since the county council’s proposals to stop funding crossing patrols were revealed at the end of last year.

A group of lollipop ladies came down from Waveney and were joined by one from Ipswich alongside local Labour activists who had organised the petition.

Mr McGregor said he had ensured that the patrols would be able to continue operating until the end of the summer term to give schools and parents the opportunity to find other ways of running them.

He said: “We have managed to ensure they can remain in place until July. I am very hopeful that with that extra time, more patrols will be able to find other funding from schools, PTAs, or sponsors.”

Mr Gummer said it made sense for schools or parents to be able to run patrols without staff having to be employed by the council or police.

He said: “When I wrote to the minister about this, he came straight back to say what a good idea so I am very hopeful we can make this work.”

n Should schools or parents be able to run their own crossing patrols? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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