MORE than 1,800 people have signed two petitions opposing plans to cut the number of school lollipop patrols in Torfaen.

A meeting of Torfaen council yesterday noted a report on objections to the proposal to cut funding for lollipop men and women outside schools.

The assessment is part of a wide-ranging cost-cutting programme by the cash-strapped authority which must slash its budget by £11 million this year.

The report says two petitions were handed into the council by January 6, one signed by 76 people, and a second signed by 1,763 residents – with several specifically referring to Nant Celyn Primary in Cwmbran.

It was agreed at the meeting that the review will continue.

All 41 operational crossing patrols in the borough are being looked at –11 of which are vacant – with the council set to try and reduce the cost of the service by £65,000.

It is estimated by the council’s draft budget that half of the crossing points will no longer require a crossing patroller when assessed against national guidance, ‘given the enhanced safety features and changes in personal travel choices’.

Where sites do not meet the guidelines the proposal is to discontinue them.

Before sites are discontinued the council says it will consult with schools to offer them the opportunity to fund the site themselves, with neighbourhood services at the council retaining the management function.

No specific sites have currently been identified within the borough.

Concern has previously been expressed by parents, a lollipop lady of 37 years and a school head teacher.

A Torfaen council spokesman said at the end of November last year: “We know the patrols are highly valued by schools, parents and children and understand people’s concerns.”

Speaking previously to The Free Press, a former ‘lollipop’ lady of 37 years has said she fears for the safety of children at sites which have no patrol, even those with improvements and changes to road layouts and infrastructure.

Elizabeth Bowles, 78, who retired in August last year after decades of service outside Griffithstown Primary School, said: “If there is no-one there to shout or warn a child who is about to run into the road, I would worry. It’s not safe enough.”