Tag Archives: St Mary’s School

SCC humanitarians? EPIC Fail!

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I’m depressed.

I know that the  SCC Tory administration are supposed to have hearts as hard and slippery as greasy bullets,  consciences as elastic as support stockings and moral principles as indefensible as the Maginot line (I also know – because they have confessed it  -that they read my blog,  AVIDLY, I hope!).

But it takes a very hard-hearted, very conscienceless and very very unprincipled representative of the people  to support the cutting of all our Suffolk  School Crossing Patrols for the sake of  an annual £174,000.

But they did – speaking their votes  aloud – 40 to our 26.

Because  (I quote) ‘we have to face it – in this country we have simply been living beyond our means – and we can no longer do so!

Living beyond our means? I should coco  – in the last year alone, these very same prudent guardians have  spent

  • HALF A MILLION POUNDS on gagging orders for departed staff
  • £122,000 for the Chief Executive to spend (at her discretion) on unspecified consultancy with three extraordinarily retiring, unadvertised and otherwise  little-known firms
  • over 3p in every one of our council tax pounds on the salaries of their  senior management  and
  • THREE QUARTERS  OF A MILLION POUNDS on something called Suffolk Circle – which they brought  in to show Suffolk over-50s how to pay to keep themselves busy and be good neighbours to each other.
    (It makes you wonder what kind of neighbours our Tory councillors can be  themselves. Most of us in Suffolk know that neighbourliness comes free in our kindly county. )

I admit to being ill-tempered when posting this.

And with due cause.

I have just spent six interminable hours in the council chamber listening to an almost unbelievable degree of smug complacency from our Tory majority as they justified  their horrible choices.  Complacency  that dismissed such issues as cutting (oh no, suddenly its ‘divesting’ ) the road crossing patrols, abandoning the eXplore card, removing inconvenient buses because the countryside is so big and they’re all right Jack they have CARS, as (again I quote) ‘tosh.’

Woodbridge should be proud of itself. It punched well above its weight:   the deputy head, PTA chair and ex- PTA chair of St. Mary’s plus various parents and councillors  present a petition to Guy Mc Gregor on cutting the School Crossing patrol. Afterwards, no less than three brave Woodbridge souls asked excellent public questions  – again of Guy McGregor  -on cutting the St Mary’s School Crossing patrol, on cutting the eXplore card and on the cancelled buses. They got what could only be described as unhelpful answers.

During the afternoon I spoke four times, forcefully and increasingly desperately.  But the forces of reason (I would say the quiet voice of reason – but I was far from quiet) lost every single point and the conservative budget goes ahead in all its tarnished glory.

So that’s it for SCC’s cheap and effective school crossing patrols, the eXplore card, many of our scheduled buses…  I hope every single councillor who voted for it will feel proud of themselves! And I hope every resident of Suffolk will remember which people  voted for it.

It occurs to me that to some people present this was all just a game, where winning was all (“No, no, they do but jest. Poison in jest“). In case they have got to believing their own rhetoric I will just pass on the words of a Woodbridge constituent who was present :

I stayed for the vote on the first amendment but was so angry I had to leave after that. I was totally appalled at  their attitude and a complete lack of any decent argument for scrapping crossing patrols. I can honestly say I have never been so angry in my life. I had a rant on radio Suffolk when I left the building.

I think the fact that you can keep up your amazing enthusiasm whilst surrounded by a set of people who ( in my 12 year old sons words) would climb over a glass wall to see what’s on the other side, is incredible.

They are arrogant, unyielding and most definitely not representing the people they serve. Unlike you.

Because I believe in the principle that injustice – like justice – should not just be done, but SEEN to be done, I will, when the voting records appear, post a link to the names  of everyone who voted.

Whether with their consciences or not.

Chengyu for the day:

Chengyu for the day:

风 雨 如 晦 (feng yu ru hui)

wind and rain sweeping across a gloomy sky eg: a grim situation

Save our Woodbridge Lollipop patrol!

Seven years ago Suffolk’s lollipop men and women were being hailed by Suffolk  county council as  ‘greatly appreciated frontline staff’ as the golden anniversary of this wonderful, useful and CHEAP service was being celebrated.

School crossing patrols were formally recognised in Britain by the Schools Crossing Patrols Act of 1953.  Lollipop people are one of only four agents entitled to stop traffic by law (The others being the police, traffic wardens and some members of the Armed Forces).  Lollipop men and women have long done a fantastic job for a pittance and little thanks. But worse is to come..

Today all 98 patrols  in Suffolk are being cut by order of the Suffolk County Council’s Conservative administration to save a paltry £174,000  ( that is, a mere 79% of the Suffolk CEO’s annual salary).  At the very same time, SCC  is  adding another £2m to its roads budget which will weigh in at a truly gobsmacking £18.2 million this  next financial year. You couldn’t make it up.

Do you ever get the feeling that the people running SCC have simply got their priorities well and truly WRONG? that they haven’t the faintest idea about what really matters in the real world?

Dear Cllr Pembroke, dear  Cabinet:  Lets get this straight. School crossing patrols  – like the one run here in Woodbridge  by our invaluable St Mary’s School lollipop man Terry – are  not set up on a whim.    No, they are established at sites where children are in danger from road traffic when walking to and from school as assessed  – not by naughty bad people who just want to irritate you – but by national guidelines (establishedby the Local Authority Road Safety Officer’s Association and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents , no less)

So they’re not what you might call a frivolity …

Ten years ago in Woodbridge the Times reports on how the (then)  Woodbridge Lollipop man, Frank Howe, was knocked to the ground by an impatient driver while on patrol on Birkett Road, directly outside St Mary’s School.

“This driver was revving his engine,” Howe recalled. “I could see by the way his mouth was going that he was cursing me for keeping him. He mounted the kerb and went to pass me. His wing mirror caught me and I went down. He didn’t stop. Luckily, an off-duty policeman saw what happened and forced him to come back.

“The parents and children were very shocked, but they had taken down his registration number. He was prosecuted, given a £350 fine and eight points on his licence, but I never got an apology.”

Cllr Pembroke, Cabinet, can I ask you: has traffic become less busy in the last ten years?

The same article quotes the (then) SCC officer in charge  of the School Crossing service as saying:

“We want our lollipop men and women to know just how much we appreciate them. We see them as frontline members of staff, very visible!”

What a difference seven years can make, folks.

So, Cllr Pembroke, Cabinet – let’s get this straight

  • School crossing patrols were instituted and enshrined  by Act of Parliament because they were needed;
  • They have been running for over sixty years because they clearly continue to be needed;
  • Over these years the roads have got busier and busier;
  • Patrols only operate where children are in danger from road traffic when walking to and from school (this danger assessed by national guidelines);
  • We want to get children out of the car and back onto their feet – to combat child obesity and encourage independence , as well as discourage the fumes and jams and road danger caused by heavy schoolrun traffic;
  • patrols are very very cheap to run – £2,500 – £3,500 a year
  • SCC also has (although in my opinion, totally self-serving, unrealistic and self-deluded) aspirations to be ‘the Greenest County.’

And you want to close  every school crossing patrol in Suffolk to save less money than you pay your Chief Executive as basic salary???

A final question, Cllr Pembroke: What is a cynic? According to Oscar Wilde,  its  A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Cllr Pembroke, you and your Cabinet need to recognise that the  tiny cost of the Suffolk School Crossing patrols bears  little  relationship to  their extraordinary value to the people of Suffolk! Let’s hope you  recognise this before we all learn the hard way the truth of Wilde’s other famous quote from the same play: Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.

If you wish to encourage Cllr Pembroke and his Cabinet to change their minds , you could always write directly to the Leader of Suffolk County Council at Endeavour House, Ipswich.  Closer to home, St. Mary’s School has  a paper-based petition available to sign in school.

You can also add your signature to the SCC e-petition on the subject  by clicking this link http://petitions.web-labs.co.uk/suffolkcc/public/Save-our-School-Crossing-Patrols