Change of heart gives lollipop lady a reprieve

There was a show of strength from children, parents and carers at Bassetts Farm primary school this

There was a show of strength from children, parents and carers at Bassetts Farm primary school this week following proposals to stop the school crossing patrol. Ref exe 7520-07-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Bassetts Farm Primary School has been given a one-year reprieve after county chiefs ‘found’ the cash to pay for its lollipop lady, writes David Beasley.

The Journal revealed last week that the school would lose its ‘life-saving’ patroller Debbie Townsend.

The school was one of many set to lose the service, in a bid to save £100,000 of county cash this year.

County chiefs had written to school bosses saying that it ‘did not meet the criteria’ required to continue paying Debbie’s wages.

This led to angry parents protesting outside the school and setting up an online petition against the move, which saw 250 people sign-up.

Now Devon County Council has found the cash, and leader John Hart said: “Every year we have had to reduce the services we can provide...because of the Coalition Government’s continuing austerity agenda.

“But don’t expect any change after the General Election, no matter who wins.

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“We are between a rock and a hard place...We have to find the money to provide the services we are legally obliged to provide, but there is very little left to do what we would like to do.

“And I can’t see it changing much in the short to medium term.”

The chairman of governors at Bassetts Farm Primary School, Mike White, said: “I don’t know why they changed their minds, but they have.

“Last week we didn’t even know what the criteria was.

“At least now we have a chance to put our case. We have an audit trail of the traffic problems outside the school and how dangerous it can be.”

Mum Karen Christenson set up the petition and said: “I am pleased, but the cynic in me believes that the money was ‘found’ because an election is coming up.

“The petition was really gathering momentum when this announcement came.

“Now we have to look ahead to what happens next year.”