Its been a while since I had calls home from school, but in the space of a couple of days, I had contact from the head teacher of Longfleet school, the deputy head from another school, and lots of parents concerned about the sudden loss of the school crossing patrol in Garland Road, to be withdrawn at the end of the week.
As a Ward Councillor, you sometimes get to hear about plans in advance, but I was as non-plussed as the parents. So I went down to the school, just before closing time, and talked to John, the Crossing patroller, who whilst acting as a roving relief, has been guarding children crossing this road for some time. He highlighted the significant number of older children from Poole High School also using the crossing, and how cars speed along this narrow road, parked on both sides. He has had to jump out of the way more than once, one time scooping up a child to protect them. He has been very well regarded by the community, as someone who cheerily takes an interest in the children, as part of their routine. I then went to talk to Mr Helm, the head teacher, who was also very enthusiastic about the services of the crossing patrol.
Within days, the Poole People Ward Councillors did manage to get the operational decision, made by Council staff to save a few pounds overturned, at least until a Zebra crossing was put in place.
A crossing patroller costs about £6,000 per year, and across the BCP Council area, to make small savings, these are been progressively replaced with formal crossings, either a Zebra, or a light controlled crossing. The Annual costs of a Zebra crossing are £160 a year – lighting, and repainting every ten years. They cost upwards of £30,000 to install, but the claim is that they are active around the clock, in school holidays as well as term time, for children who may be at an after school club, and for adults too.
It is sad to lose the dedicated personal input of a friendly face on the way to school.