Tuesday, 6 January 2009
Lollipop ladies face the axe in budget cuts
Barnet’s Cabinet meets tonight to discuss the budget. One of the proposals is to axe school crossing patrols to save £75,000.
The council expects schools to pay for this service themselves. With what precisely? Their budgets are already stretched to breaking point.
School Governors will be faced with the unenviable choice of either cutting something from their own budgets or going without the lollipop ladies and men.
I fully support attempts by the council to cut costs, but to do so at the risk of children’s safety and education is immoral and nothing short of electoral suicide.
There are so many other ways to reduce costs without affecting front line services - cutting Councillors’ Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs) being top of the list. In 2007/08 (current figures not yet available), 22 councillors received multiple allowances, despite the recommendation by the London Councils Executive Committee that no councillor should receive more than one SRA.
In 2007, Barnet Council actually voted to remove the cap on allowances, allowing Mike Freer to claim an additional SRA.
Councillors allowances cost the taxpayer more than £1 million last year. In the real world, people are having to tighten their belts during the economic crisis. It’s time for our leaders to set an example, take a small cut in their allowances and save this service.
If the council had not gambled £28 million of our money in Iceland, wasted £1.4 million on near obsolete computers (many of which are now in storage unused), or £14,000 on televisions for chief officers, or £1,750 sending the Acting Chief Executive to the South of France, they would not now be faced with the need to cut essential frontline services.
However, there is one small glimmer of hope. The council needs the agreement of the Schools Forum to charge schools for the crossing patrols. I don’t know who the members of this forum are, but I urge you all to reject this dangerous and stingy proposal out of hand.