Scotland

Lollipop men and women numbers down

School patrol lollipop Image copyright PA
Image caption The number of lollipop men and women has fallen by 75 in three years

Two-thirds of Scotland's councils have cut the amount of money spent on lollipop men and women in the past three years, research by BBC Scotland has found.

School crossing patrol personnel numbers have dropped by about 75 since 2013, leading to fears about safety.

Overall, councils spent £810,000 less on the service than three years ago.

Stirling Council has reduced its outlay by the highest percentage, spending 50% less than in 2013.

West Dunbartonshire cut its spending on patrol services by 40%.

The figures were obtained from Freedom of Information requests answered by 30 of Scotland's 32 local authorities.

It showed there are now just over 2,100 school patrol officers in Scotland.

Despite the widespread reductions, some local authorities actually increased their spend - including Inverclyde, where it went up by more than 90% and Dumfries and Galloway, where it increased by nearly 10%.

Amount spent on school crossing patrols by council (£s) - highest percentage cuts at top
Council 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 Difference % difference 2013-15
Stirling 104,990 87,520 51,710 -53,280 -50.75
West Dunbartonshire 274,270 257,113 163,627 -110,643 -40.34
Midlothian 226,671 158,574 152,707 -73,964 -32.63
South Ayrshire 170,958 159,764 121,379 -49,579 -29
Highland 243,381.11 237,583.72 190,643.12 -52,737.99 -21.67
Aberdeen 145,316.37 137,246.30 116,594.08 -28,722.29 -19.77
Western Isles 7,066 4,093 5,752 -1,314 -18.60
South Lanarkshire 1,413,531 1,202,122 1,151,400 -262,131 -18.54
Orkney 39,293.29 33,980.85 33,464.41 -5,828.88 -14.83
East Lothian 289,730.03 271,044.56 256,044.17 -33,685.86 -11.63
Falkirk 311,704 290,992 279,312 -32,392 -10.39
West Lothian 418,664 410,505 377,108 -41,556 -9.93
Perth and Kinross 337,300 320,291 307,935 -29,365 -8.71
North Lanarkshire 905,371 870,096 832,991 -72,380 -7.99
Glasgow 2,775,261 2,819,512 2,636,675 -138,586 -4.99
Clackmannanshire 85,868 86,150 82,144 -3,724 -4.34
East Dunbartonshire 397,985.94 411,089.61 381,824.64 -16,161.3 -4.06
Aberdeenshire 346,000 342,000 338,000 -8,000 -2.31
Fife 299,388 305,178 294,339 -5,049 -1.69
Scottish Borders 125,509 121,186 124,888 -621 -0.49
North Ayrshire 172,599 171,243 173,116 517 0.3
Edinburgh 998,612 999,431 1,007,641 9,029 0.9
Shetland 14,886 15,046 15,046 160 1.07
East Renfrewshire 220,265.09 227,624.35 222,699.21 2,434.12 1.11
East Ayrshire 255,712.82 252,737.02 258,805.35 3,092.53 1.21
Renfrewshire 573,326 564,146 589,644 16,318 2.85
Moray 192,548.33 192,712.01 201,480.16 8,931.83 4.64
Argyll and Bute 169,280.17 174,920.68 181,560.03 12,279.86 7.25
Dumfries and Galloway 240,548 260,429 263,396 22,848 9.5
Inverclyde 146,698 227,492 280,794 134,096 91.41
Angus 279,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Dundee 355,048 N/A N/A N/A N/A

A spokesman for Stirling Council, which had the biggest cut to school patrol services, said the decision was made three years ago following substantial cuts to its overall budget.

He added: "The majority of these savings were made by removing lunch-time crossing patrols and removing any patrols which duplicated existing crossing safety measures (i.e. pelican and zebra crossings nearby). The safety of our pupils is of the utmost importance and we strive to maintain key crossing patrol services where these are required."

West Dunbartonshire said that patroller sites had been reduced due to a variety of factors including the relocation of schools, lack of use of sites and alternative facilities nearby.

A spokesman for the council said: "Over the last three years a number of our school crossing patrollers have retired or moved on to other roles.

"On review, some of the sites have no longer met the criteria for a crossing patroller and in other cases we have installed a pedestrian crossing.

"Increasing numbers of pupils remaining in school over lunchtime has also meant that there is no longer demand for cover during these times."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Scottish Parent Teacher Council said people really valued the lollipop service

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council emphasised the importance of school patrollers for pupil safety.

Eileen Prior from the organisation said: "Parents want to make sure that when they say goodbye to their child in the morning they can be confident they are going to be able to get to school safely.

"The reality on the ground is that services and supports for education services are being cut at local authority level. Lollipop people provide an important service that parents really value."

Figures also show that over the period between 2013-16, the number of children killed on the roads fell, although the number seriously injured increased slightly.

The highest numbers of children were injured while walking during school drop-off and pick-up times.

In 2013 there were five children killed while on foot and 92 seriously injured - compared to three children killed last year and 97 seriously injured.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Child pedestrians are two-and-a-half times more likely than adults to be injured on the road

However, according to Sustrans - which promotes safe walking and cycling networks across the UK - the number of children walking to school has fallen dramatically.

In its 2015 policy studies institute report, it cited figures from 1971, which showed 86% of children travelled home from school alone. That compared with figures from 2010 that showed only 25% walked to school.

In Scotland child pedestrians are two-and-a-half times more likely than adults to be injured in road traffic accidents.

'Impact of cuts'

Although accident rates are falling, more child and adult pedestrians are injured in road traffic accidents in deprived areas compared with more affluent areas.

Over the past decade, in deprived areas, three times as many child pedestrians were injured than in less deprived areas.

A spokesman for Cosla, the umbrella group that represents many of Scotland's councils, said the issue of cuts to school crossing patrollers was related to the overall drop in council funding from the Scottish government.

Image copyright PA

He said: "People all over Scotland are becoming more and more aware of the impact of cuts to council budgets.

"Each council will do everything in their power to restrict the impact of budget cuts on families and communities, but the nature of our work means that these cuts impact on everyone eventually.

"We continue to advocate for a fair settlement for local government in Scotland and look forward to negotiations with Scottish government on this matter."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "Spending on school patrollers is a matter for individual councils but the Scottish government has treated local government very fairly despite the cuts to the Scottish budget from the UK government.

"Taking into account the addition of the £250m to support the integration of health and social care, the overall reduction in 2016-17 funding equates to less than 1% of local government's total estimated expenditure in 2016-17."

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