Each morning I take my children to school along Tubbenden Lane. Linking the A21 and Station Road, it’s a busy road, especially during the school run. It’s a bit eccentric too, perhaps recalling the time when it was a country road. The pavement runs out in places, so to get to school we have to cross the road twice. Each morning and afternoon, in all weathers, our lollipop lady is there to guide our children safely across the road. She is a familiar figure. The children know her and like her, and they learn about road safety from her example.
From April, things will change. Tory-run Bromley Council have decided to cut crossing patrols to save £233,000. They say that these "extremely painful" cuts have been imposed on them by central government. While this is true, it is also the case that Bromley Council decided not to draw on reserves to save this service, or any others facing the axe. Even the Conservative MP for Bromley and Chiselhurst, Bob Neill, has stated that councils should draw on reserves to soften the blow. Bromley’s reserves are not modest, either. According to some reports, Bromley Council has £51.9 million stashed away, as well as a property portfolio including six farms.
The logic of the government’s cuts is that they are necessary to get the economy going again. Accordingly, you would think that any reserves that were redeployed could be made up later with the revenues generated by a growing economy. Perhaps Bromley Council doesn’t share George Osborne’s confidence in his cuts for growth strategy, and is hanging onto its cash in the expectation that things can only get worse.
While this may be the case, let’s remind Bromley Council that 5,000 children under the age of 16 are killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads each year, and that nearly two in three road accidents happen when children are walking or playing. Apart from the impact on the safety of our children, cutting crossing patrols will mean more cars on the road, more congestion, more pollution. The vital work of the crossing patrols across the borough is too important to be left to volunteers. Let them continue to do the work that the people of Bromley value so highly, and be paid fairly for it too.
Voice your concerns
Councillor Colin Smith is the Environment Portfolio Holder for Bromley Council and the man behind these dangerous and unnecessary cuts. If you are as concerned as I am, please write, phone or email to let him know.
Councillor Colin Smith
c/o Members’ Room
Bromley Civic Centre
Phone: 020 8462 5061
The facts about road accidents and children, February 2003, The AA Motoring Trust