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GMB Birmingham & West Midlands Region

Save Birmingham's lollipop workers jobs

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

GMB is gravely concerned that children’s lives will be put in danger and a child could be seriously injured or even killed.

GMB, the union for school support staff is proud to be part of a new campaign to save the city’s lollipop workers jobs and safeguard children’s journeys to and from school.

The campaign has been launched after Birmingham City Council announced it is being forced to save more money as their budget is slashed even further by central government. The City has lost a third of its budget since 2010 the equivalent of £161 per household compared to the national average of £47.

GMB together with all the City’s Labour MP’s led by Jack Dromey, GMB is calling for Birmingham City Council to reconsider and not cut lollipop funding and jobs. Richard Burden MP for Northfield and the Shadow Minister for Transport will also be in attendance at the launch to lend weight to the campaign.

In Birmingham there has been no improvement in the number of road injuries and fatalities over the last four years. Nationally there has been a 40% cut in road safety spending since 2010 and across the country there are now 1,000 fewer lollipop men and women on the streets. 41% of parents have reported their child having a near miss on the way to school and two thirds of primary school pupils do not feel roads are safe to cycle and walk to school on.

Gill Whittaker, GMB Regional Organiser said, “GMB is gravely concerned that children’s lives will be put in danger and a child could be seriously injured or even killed. School Crossing Patrol Officers are much respected in local communities and do a fulfilling job. GMB and MP’s have come together to get this decision reversed and we hope the government and the council will listen.

GMB is obviously concerned too about the impact of these further cuts on GMB members who are already under pressure and overworked. The threat of losing more jobs is a further blow.”

Jack Dromey, Labour MP for Erdington “It is vitally important that the children of Erdington and Birmingham are safe going to and from school. That is why we are working with the trade unions to encourage the Council to make the decision to protect children in the city. Birmingham is under huge financial pressures due to the biggest cuts in Local Government history, but the safety of our children is of the utmost importance and must come first.”

Avril Child, Road Safety Campaigner said “I can’t believe our children are being put at risk again because of cut backs. It seems road safety is the first to be axed. Our children should be protected and put first; they are vulnerable and have no chance against a vehicle.”

Mark New, UNISON regional Organiser said, "This is about more than just our members. UNISON is joining this important campaign with one of our local MPs to ask the City Council to reconsider its decision. The safety of roads around our local schools is at risk here, the cuts inflicted on this area are devastating enough but the safety of the children of Birmingham is simply too important to be compromised by Tory Government cuts."

The campaign is backed by The Birmingham Mail. Marc Reeves, Editor-in-Chief Trinity Mirror Midlands and Editor, Birmingham Mail, said: "Of course we understand the challenges facing the council, and that cuts need to be made. But in this case, they've got it wrong.

Lollipop men and women keep our children safe in so many different ways. Every time they see kids safely across a busy road, they're teaching them a valuable lesson in road safety that continues to protect even when the lollipop lady isn't around.

They do even more, by setting an example in community values, courtesy and respect for others.

If the council goes ahead with these cuts, they'll be throwing away some of Birmingham' most loyal and popular community servants, and that's why the Mail wants them to think again." 

Ends

Contact: Gillian Whittaker, GMB Organiser on 07850 768351 or Samantha Jones, GMB Media Administrator on 07939 874272 or GMB Press Office on 07974 251823

Notes to Editors:

• Two thirds of local authorities (66%) have cut their number of school crossing patrols since 2010. That’s 1000 fewer lollipop men and women since David Cameron became Prime Minster.

• This is not through choice – but because the Conservative-led Government not only cut road safety spending 40%, but reduced council spending by up to a third in real terms.

• Over a third (41%) of parents have reported their child having a near miss on the way to school,, and two thirds of primary school children surveyed by Brake think roads are unsafe for walking and cycling.

• The Coalition Government’s 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review resulted in a 40% total cut in road safety spending. This consisted of a 27% cut to the revenue grant (with £20.6m taken off a promised £76.7m) and a £100% cut to the capital grant (£17.2m).

• Ring-fencing of the remaining road safety grants for Local Authorities was also removed, meaning that councils have been able to use road safety money for other purposes.

• In England, total local government spending has fallen by 28% in real terms from 2008-2015. Cuts in spending power are systematically greater in more deprived local authorities than in more affluent ones – meaning cities like Birmingham face cuts of £161 per household, as oppose to the national average of the £47 per household.

Impact on Local Authorities

In 2013 Labour's Shadow Transport Team have obtained the following figures road safety budgets and staffing levels from FOI requests to 133 local authorities:

• 92% reported having cut their budgets from 2010/11 - 2013/14

• Of these, there was an average budget reduction of over a third - 42%.

• Two thirds (66%) of all local authorities responded had cut staff working on road safety in the same periods.

• Nearly half of all respondents (49%) had cut budgets for walking and cycling.

Lollipop People and Road Safety

· Freedom of Information requests have shown that the number of school crossing patrols has decreased in two thirds (66%) of local authorities since 2010. That means 1000 fewer lollipop men and women since the Coalition Government entered office.

• The number of children killed and seriously injured while walking to and from school rose stands at 566 annually (2013 statistics). Progress has stalled in significantly reducing these rates – it was 594 in 2011 and 637 in 2012. There has been no significant increase in the numbers walking to school.

• Similarly, there have been concerning trends in recent road safety statistics – with the number of people killed or seriously injured sharply increasing in the first six months of 2014 and progress on reducing casualty rates is stalling.

• A recent survey by Brake revealed that two thirds of primary school children think roads are unsafe for walking and cycling.

• Sustrans have also reported that 41% of parents surveyed say their child has experienced a 'near miss' on the school run.

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