Haydock mum’s campaign to save borough’s lollipop patrols

Haydock mum Helen Longworth is fighting back against St Helens Council proposal to cut school crossing patrols. Pictured with patrol volunteer Ian Nocton.
Haydock mum Helen Longworth is fighting back against St Helens Council proposal to cut school crossing patrols. Pictured with patrol volunteer Ian Nocton.

A mother has mounted a campaign to save local lollipop crossing patrols after a council decision to axe the service.

Helen Longworth slammed St Helens Council’s announcement that the borough’s lollipop patrols could be scrapped as part of a scheme to save £20.3m by 2020.

If approved, shelving the service could save the council as much as £130,000 per year.

But the mother-of-three reacted with frustration at what she considered to be putting a price on safety.

“I was angry, and I still am,” she said.

“I just feel like it’s a drop in the ocean for the amount of money the have to save. When it comes to children, OI just think why risk their saftety over such a small amount of money?”

The 34-year-old from Haydock also commented that although her two young children do not need to cross busy roads on their way to school, just knowing that responsible adults were on the streets was reassuring.

Helen said: “My two boys sometimes walk to school on their own, and it gives me peace of mind knowing that the patrols are there.

“You see so many kids messing about by the road side, and I just think that having someone responsible there gives you that comfort.”

Helen also dismissed the council’s proposals to transfer responsibility for the patrols to the schools themselves.

“It’s just not a viable option. My children’s school have already said they have a tight budget, and can’t fund anymore, so I don’t see it happening.

Helen has launched an online petition to highlight the importance of the school crossing patrols, and is urging more locals to take up the cause too.

“I wish I could help the whole town, but it’s just too much for one person,” she said.

“If anyone else in the community wants to start their own petition, I would like to think that they would help.”

Local camaign group Rainford Action Group also added its voice to the criticism of the council’s proposals, saying the patrols were “a vital service that protects our precious children.

The group’s chairman James Wright said: “St Helen’s Council is putting the safety of our children at risk. Everyone understands the need to make savings but what price can be put on a child’s life?”

St Helens Council currently operates a school crossing patrol at 39 designated sites across the borough. They are proposing to stop providing the service and transfer responsibility to schools. Alternatively, they could stop the service at low risk sites or those with traffic calming measures in place.

A public consultation exercise have been launched until September 3. Residents can take part by visiting sthelens.gov.uk/council/public-consultation.