Dear Editor,

I read the recent consultation ‘Balancing the Budget’ from Hampshire County Council; the council says that it needs to save £80 million a year to balance its 2022-24 budget.  

On the block are a lot of services – sexual health, subsidised transport, adult social care to name a few  - almost all affecting the vulnerable in society but the one that struck me as the most grossly irresponsible was a plan to completely axe School Crossing Patrols – more fondly known as Lollipop-crossings.  

There are two Lollipop men at Oakridge School, where my daughters attend; Lee on Sherborne Road and Keith on Oakridge Road – and there is a Lollipop woman on Vivian Road for South View School.  That is three in Norden; I would be interested if other residents can tell me how many other Lollipops there are in other areas of Basingstoke?  

These people work hard in all weathers to ensure the safety of families with young children as they commute to and from school – on roads that are increasingly busy in town.  

There was an accident at the Vivian Road crossing recently.  And just a week ago the Gazette reported a 10-year-old was hit by a car outside Castle Hill school on Winklebury Way.  Residents in Norden are well aware of speeding problems on Oakridge Road and elsewhere in the ward.

How can anyone think this is a sensible saving to propose?

According to the council’s own data, each Lollipop costs less than £7,000 per year.  Is that a fair price to put on a child’s life or mobility?  Or indeed a burden for treatment and recuperation to place on the NHS?  That is the inevitable consequence should these cuts proceed.  

Alternatively, my daughter’s school, Oakridge, will have to find £14,000 per annum to fund the two crossings itself.  I am sure that Executive Headteacher Diane Charman would rather be spending funds on an extra teaching assistant or learning materials to maintain the outstanding quality of our local school.   

As a community we really must strongly resist these proposed cuts to our school crossing patrols, else we blithely accept "an accident waiting to happen".  

Paul Basham, Cromwell Road