Wed 24 Jan 2018
Around a year ago, Wakefield Council said that it would no longer be funding the School Crossing Patrol at the junction of Poplar Avenue/Gypsy Lane and Sheepwalk Lane from 1 April 2017, a crossing that is used by many pupils, parents and members of our local community. Instead, we as a group of schools were asked to step in and fund what we believe should be a Council service from the money we receive for the education of children in our schools.
Wakefield Council’s position is that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure their children get to school safely. The local authority needed to save money from its budget, so the service was set to be withdrawn unless schools funded the Patrol.
As parents ourselves and members of the local community, we were appalled that children (and parents) would be expected to cross the busy junction at peak times without assistance. We were also unhappy at the short timeframe within which we were being required to make a decision on funding the Patrol, with no time to explore with the Council other alternatives and when school budgets had already been set. Many parents of pupils at the school also told us how concerned they were about the loss of the crossing patrol. We all know how busy that road is, and crossing at that junction can be dangerous for an adult, let alone a child.
So instead of spending money on books, resources, maintaining our school buildings or educational experiences for our children, together we agreed to fund the crossing patrol for a year, to give Wakefield Council time to put in place a permanent solution to this issue. However, we said at the time that we could not afford to pay for this indefinitely – parents and carers will be well aware of the drastic cuts to school funding, rising prices and that costs previously borne by the government have now been passed on to schools. Our funding is for the education of children, and that is what we must prioritise – not bailing out Council budget shortfalls.
When we agreed to fund the crossing, we made it clear that we could not continue the funding after this year, and asked the Council to work with us to put a permanent solution in place. However, the Council have not make any approaches to us to discuss putting a permanent puffin crossing at the site, as they did on Fryston Road. Once again we are in a position where, from 1 April, there will be no safe crossing at the Sheepwalk Lane junction. However, this time we cannot afford to step in – our schools need what funds they have to put teachers in front of children, to provide books, stationery, classroom assistants and to repair and maintain the buildings.
Wakefield Council needs to put in place a sustainable solution to this problem. We are not asking that they continue to fund the crossing patrol as we understand that it would be a long-term and ongoing commitment to make, and that they would then have to fund every other crossing patrol in the District. However, we are asking that they invest in putting an unmanned crossing at this junction, to ensure the safety of our children and parents, and to benefit the wider local community in crossing this busy road.
We are therefore asking for the support of parents, carers and our local community to help us in taking direct action to get the Council to listen to us and install a permanent puffin crossing on Sheepwalk Lane. We have set up a Facebook Page – the Sheepwalk Lane Crossing Action Group – to gather support for our cause and ask parents, carers, families, the local community and friends of the schools to like and share our page, and share their views so we can take these to the Council in support of our case. We have also established a petition: if you agree that a permanent crossing should be established on Sheepwalk Lane near the junction with Gypsy Lane/Poplar Avenue, please either sign our online petition or call into school and sign the hard copy by 9 March 2018.