Fifteen school crossing patrols will be lost throughout the county, including two within St Stephen, following a policy change by the county council.

The crossing patrols by Perdiswell Primary School and St Barnabas Primary School are being removed because they have a light-controlled crossing, as is the case for Perdiswell, or are getting a zebra crossing, as is the case for St Barnabas (new zebra crossing added recently).

The cost of each school crossing patrol is only around £3000 per year, so the savings involved are tiny. Yet there are concerns about the negative impact that this change will have on the safety of children and on the number who continue to walk or cycle to school. The head of Perdiswell Primary has also raised the fact that the patrol helps stop parents parking dangerously close to the school, including on the zig-zags.

The following is the relevant section from the guidelines produced by Road Safety GB that the county council have based their new policy on:

School Crossing Patrol Service Guidelines – Revised September 2016

6.4 Working at Light Controlled Signal Crossings (puffins, pelicans, traffic light junctions, toucans etc.)

SCPs and light-controlled crossings fulfil the same purpose (they stop traffic so pedestrians may cross the road safely) and, therefore, having both in place at the same site is a duplication of resources and may be confusing for drivers.

SCPs should not be located on light-controlled crossings unless there are exceptional circumstances such as poor driver behaviour (for example red light running), large groups of children crossing or concern about the children’s age and ability to use the facility correctly. Local road safety enforcement, education or pedestrian training at the school in question may help to address these concerns.

The important statement in the above guidelines is “unless there are exceptional circumstances such as poor driver behaviour (for example red light running), large groups of children crossing or concern about the children’s age and ability to use the facility correctly.

The online petition to keep the SCP at Perdiswell mentions the various concerns that people have about the loss of the crossing patrol. These concerns match the exceptional circumstances referenced in the guidelines. For example:

One of the many problems is that cars are accelerating as they approach the lights when they turn amber before red. As the cars are only doing a maximum of 20mph-ish due to the congestion they should easily be able to slow down to stop for the red light but they DO NOT! This results in cars accelerating to constantly try to get past the crossing before the red light shows, so they do not have to wait (maybe impatient to get to work and don’t want to be held up etc). The result of this is that they are always then driving over the crossing as the red light to stop appears. This is of course when the green light is shown to the pedestrian to cross and the result is that there is a risk of altercation between motorist and pedestrian! (This is of course in addition to Motorists driving through the red lights at this site regularly as well)

The Lollipop person (in this case Mr Bate) was aware of this safety issue along with others and was able to make pedestrians (the school children) safe by preventing them from crossing until these cars had passed and the other cars both ways had come to a complete stop.