Budget cuts hit crossing patrols

End of the road for lollipop men and women
End of the road for lollipop men and women

Dedicated school crossing patrols are being phased out with janitors, cooks and cleaners set to provide cover.

Councillors voted through the money-saving measure last Tuesday night, just hours after a new agreement was reached to avert wider strike action.

As part of the agreement, which was rubber-stamped at Tuesday’s full council meeting, a decision was made to utilise staff from the facilities management team for school crossing patrols when required.

The changes are part of a restructuring of facilities managment services, which does not involve any compulsory redundancies, and will be phased in gradually using ‘natural wastage’.

As a result, when a school crossing patrol officer leaves they will not be replaced and another member of staff from the facilities management team will take on their duties.

The full proposals, which also affects property maintenance (joiners, electricians and plumbers) and streetscene (parks and litter), will deliver savings of £1.189 million. This leaves a shortfall in savings of just over £138,000 for 2015/16 and further cuts will be needed to bridge the gap.

Opposition SNP councillor Keith Small said: “I’m unsure about whether janitors, cleaners or catering staff could realistically multi-task.

“The safety of kids is paramount and we have to make sure that crossings will be prioritised over other duties.

“I was given assurances at the meeting that this would be the case. I think it’s terrible that there appears to have been no consultation with parent councils over this.”

He added: “They are simply going to be informed of the decision.”

Council leader Rhondda Geekie said: “Budget pressures are driving this process.

“We now begin the process of communicating these new models to the workforce and ensuring they are put in place by the target start dates.”

Grace Irvine, director of neighbourhood services said: “There will be no job losses amongst our school crossing patrollers. As we move forward, if a member of the team leaves, they will not be replaced by another school crossing patroller.

“Other members of the school facilities management team, who will all be known to the pupils, will take over these roles. Full training will be given before employees are expected to take on any new responsibilities.”