Thursday, 20 March 2014
I trailed this a little while back but there is now a consulation on School Patrol Crossings. Take the Survey. Leader of Green Group on Essex County Council, James Abbott, said "Many people are quite rightly angered by this disgraceful proposal by the Tories which is nothing less than ideological penny pinching and proves that austerity handed down from the Tories and Lib Dems in Westminster is being eagerly lapped up by Tories at County Hall. It has been stated that the cuts will "save" about £300,000. Yet this is a fraction of the many £ milions that ECC "found" just a few weeks ago - when it decided to implement a 0% council tax change. At that time there was no mention of these proposed cuts - which the administration must have been considering. We keep being told that despite "savings", front line services are being maintained - this is clearly not true. These proposed cuts to a much valued service are also in the ongoing context of ECC still lavishing free meals on councillors and high allowances and travel expenses by senior Tory councillors. Alternative means of funding the crossing patrols are available. As well as cutting out free lunches, the administration could look to vire some funding from the Local Highways Panel revenue budgets, or from reserves, or from other budgets where there is a projected underspend. In the context of a £2 billion total budget it clearly could be done yet the Tories have deliberately chosen to put parents and children through the worry of yet another of its "consultations" - where we know what the outcome will probably be - as it was with Children's Centres and the Youth Service - big cuts. School Crossing Patrols - lollipop men and women - have been a feature of our communities for many decades. The patrols provide reassurance to parents and children and help encourage children to walk to school. At a time when child obesity, road crashes that kill or injure children and congestion near schools are all policy priorities for action, it beggars belief that ECC should act in a way that undermines measures to reduce those problem areas."
Tuesday, 11 March 2014
After protests and letters to Rodney Bass, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Highway and Transport by Greens and residents Essex have performed a u-turn on the policy of turning street lights off from 12midnight to 5am. The change means lights will be off from 1am to 6am. This is a step in the right direction. We still need a move to 1.30am for people on the last train, and moving the 5am to 6am does move the problem which will be more noticable in the autumn and winter.
Essex County Council has written to all County Councillors talking about "some rationalisation and review of the service" which is code for cuts. This is very worrying. It is astonishing that ECC should even consider - as it appears to be doing - cutting this vital safety measure for young school children that also gives parents and children more confidence to walk to school. Any cuts would dangerous and ungreen. It would discourage children walking to schools. I sincerely hope they do not go forward with this. The cuts have so far largely been aimed at young famalies and young people, the least likely to vote.