School crossing patrol axe puts Rainford children at risk just as St Helens Council seeks to expand the village
St Helens Council is to axe Rainford’s only school crossing patrol despite its hugely controversial plans to expand the village by a third, which would see traffic in Rainford increase dramatically.
The council wants to scrap all the borough’s lollipop ladies and men to cut costs. In Rainford, that would mean the school crossing patrol outside Rainford Church of England Primary School would go. The patrol helps hundreds of children cross one of the village’s busiest roads.
Campaigners say axing Rainford’s lollipop lady “beggars belief” when the council wants to see at least 1,140 houses built in Rainford. That would see more than than 2,000 extra cars using the village’s roads.
James Wright, chair of Rainford Action Group, said: “The school crossing patrol in Rainford is a vital service that protects our precious children. Getting rid of that service at any time would be bad enough but to get rid of it while at the same time ploughing ahead with plans to put another 2,000 cars on Rainford’s roads beggars belief.”
Thirty-nine schools in St Helens that currently have a school crossing patrol received a letter from the council earlier this month telling them the authority would no longer pay for the service. Schools were given two options; fund the patrols themselves from their own budget or accept an alternative service from the council. That alternative service would include road safety lessons and a road crossing App but not a crossing patrol.
It’s not known what option Rainford CE Primary School is considering but the school is located on Cross Pit Lane, one of Rainford’s busiest roads. There are already problems with parking in the area and last year traffic calming measures were introduced to slow drivers down. Cross Pit Lane is described by parents as “chaotic” at school drop-off and pick-up times.
Those problems would only increase if St Helens Council’s plans to build at least 1,140 houses and an industrial unit in Rainford on seven different green belt sites were to go ahead.
James Wright said: “St Helens Council is putting the safety of our children at risk. Everyone understands the need to make savings but what price can be put on a child’s life?
“While cutting an important safeguard, the council is plotting to make our roads even more dangerous. This shows just how out of touch and money-driven the council is.”
The loss of the school crossing patrol would be another council service gone from Rainford, despite the village contributing £5.6m* a year in revenue to the council through council tax and business rates. Rainford’s recycling centre has closed and Rainford Library’s opening hours have been drastically cut back.
The village has no police, fire or ambulance station, no NHS dentist and poor public transport links. Rainford Action Group says the village’s infrastructure is not fit for the current population and cannot cope with expansion on the scale the council is planning.
James Wright said: “Are people in Rainford getting value for money for their council tax when the village contributes £5.6m a year to St Helens Council but the council won’t even pay for a school crossing patrol to protect our children?
“Why should schools pay for crossing patrols when all their funding should be spent on our children’s education?
“The council must reconsider its school crossing patrol plans and its unnecessary, unreasonable and unworkable plan to grow our rural village by a third.”