What is the current situation?
Hampshire County Council currently provides 184 School Crossing Patrols (SCPs), which help children and parents/carers to cross the road safely on their way to and from school.
We have a legal duty to promote road safety and take measures to prevent accidents (see the Road Traffic Act 1988). However, there is no specific legal requirement for us to provide SCPs.
We make decisions about where to provide SCPs using the criteria defined by the Road Safety Great Britain (RSGB) School Crossing Patrol guidelines. These national guidelines are produced by the Road Safety GB School Crossing Patrol Specialist Advisers Group and updated periodically. They have been compiled based on existing legislation, best practice, health and safety and case law and are endorsed and supported by the Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). These criteria are reflected in our School Crossing Patrol Policy adopted in 2018 and include the number of pedestrians and children crossing at a location, the volume of traffic, as well as factors such as visibility, width of road, street lighting and vehicle speeds. The numerical criteria based upon the pedestrian and vehicle flows is known as the PV² value. SCP sites are justified where the PV² exceeds 4 million.
More than one SCP may serve a school where children cross at different locations, and a single SCP may serve children attending different schools where they cross at the same location.
Where we do not consider that an SCP is needed based on current criteria, schools or other groups may currently pay for a SCP through a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the County Council where it is safe for one to operate. This would cover the full cost of providing the service and includes the appropriate equipment, training and staff management. Currently four of these agreements are in place, and these would continue and are not affected by this proposal.
What is being proposed?
We are proposing to remove school crossing patrols where we believe it is safe to do so. This would reduce the amount of money we spend on the County Council's School Crossing Patrol service by up to £1.1 million each year. We propose to do this by:
1. Removing SCPs where we believe that a site is already safe.
We are proposing to remove SCPs from 26 sites:
- 17 of which do not meet the PV² threshold
- 4 which operate on a formal crossing (and so duplicate resource)
- 5 which exceed the PV² threshold but which have not been patrolled for four years or more – in these instances we would review each site to ensure each site could operate safely without a SCP going forward and would implement alternative safety measures where required
17 sites proposed for withdrawal as not meeting PV² threshold
|Chamberlayne Road/Blenheim Road
|Chapel Road/Moorgreen Road, West End
|Hobb Lane, Hedge End
|Maunsell Way/Marlborough Gardens, Hedge End
|Hunts Pond Road/Longacres, Park Gate
|Red Lion/Stubbington Green, Stubbington
|Aldermoor Road, Purbrook
|Padnell Avenue, Waterlooville, outside school
|Park Lane/Hazelholt Drive, Bedhampton
|Mill Road, Waterlooville, outside school
|Gosport Road/Cambridge Road
|Wych Lane/Kent Road
|Exbury Road/Hampton Lane, Blackfield
|Studley Avenue/Lime Kiln Lane, Holbury
|Parkhouse Road, Shipton Bellinger
|Church Lane, Kings Worthy
|Church Road, Swanmore
4 sites proposed for withdrawal as duplicating resource at a controlled crossing
|Portsmouth Road, Lowford,outside Angela Coaches (Zebra)
|Wildern Lane, Hedge End (Zebra)
|Gally Hill Road, Crookham, outside school (Zebra)
|A35 High Street, Lyndhurst (Zebra)
5 sites proposed for withdrawal as not patrolled for over four years although exceeding the PV² threshold
|Fleet Road, Farnborough
|Cupernham Lane, Romsey
|A3057 Stockbridge, outside The White Hart pub
|Badger Farm Roundabout, Olivers Battery
|Stockbridge Road/Hatherley Road
2. Taking measures to make a crossing safe without the requirement for a SCP.
We are proposing to review the other 154 SCP sites not covered in proposal 1, to see what could be done to make them safer. We might, for example, make changes to the road, improve road signs, install a traffic island, change speed limits, or install traffic lights, depending on what is best for each location. We expect this review would result in some SCPs being removed once it is safe to do so.
Where measures could be put in place, the cost of these would need to be considered alongside the long-term saving that could be achieved to determine whether the change would be appropriate.
NB: This review would not include the four SCP sites which are subject to an SLA because these are not funded by the County Council.
Why is this being proposed?
Until a sustainable long-term national funding solution can be found to address the intense financial pressures facing not only the County Council, but also wider local government, we have no choice but to consider changing or reducing services in some areas and propose options for savings.
With no specific legal duty to provide SCPs, withdrawing SCPs where it is safe to do so, could contribute up to £1.1 million each year towards addressing the County Council’s overall anticipated £132 million budget deficit from April 2025, while continuing to ensure we meet our duty to promote road safety and prevent traffic accidents.
It is the responsibility of parents or guardians to get their child safely to school, but we have a duty to ensure that the public can use our highways safely so we would only withdraw SCPs if a crossing site is safe or could be made safe.
How would the proposal be implemented?
If approved, the SCPs detailed in proposal 1 would likely be withdrawn by April 2025. Throughout the process we would speak to each school affected to understand and respond to any specific concerns.
If approved, a full review of SCP sites included in proposal 2 would be undertaken to consider if alternative measures to enhance safety could be put in place, allowing the SCP to be safely removed. We would liaise closely with all affected schools when withdrawing an SCP arrangement as outlined in proposal 2. This would include offering the schools and their Governors an opportunity to share their concerns and any suggestions for alternative arrangements that could be put into place.
Where we decide that changes to roads, pavements or signage would be suitable, we would not remove the SCP until after the changes have been made. There would be communication with each affected school(s) and the local community throughout the process. The timescale would be dependent on requirements at each of these sites, some SCPs may be withdrawn by April 2025, whilst some may be in service for longer.
We recognise that in some cases an SCP may be more appropriate than other measures at a school crossing point. In these cases, we would continue to provide and fund a SCP until a suitable alternative could be identified.
Where a school or other education setting wishes to continue to provide a SCP from their budget, they would be able to do this, through an SLA with us as currently exists in the four sites mentioned above.
Putting alternatives to SCPs in place would have an associated cost that would need to be funded, either directly by the County Council or from funding from other sources, such as the money we receive from local developers.
What are the potential impacts?
There are several potential impacts that may arise from the removal of SCPs. Where possible, we would try to reduce these impacts through implementing mitigation measures:
- SCPs are only active for a limited time each weekday during school term times and are for the use of those attending the school. New crossing measures at SCP sites would allow everyone to safely cross the road at any time of the day.
- Schools may feel that the safety of children would be reduced. We would work with schools to help them develop or amend their school travel plans to encourage active travel methods (such as walking, scooting, or cycling) to school, using suitable routes. Further possible mitigation measures could include working with schools to provide road safety education and implementing road measures such as low-cost signage.
- Parents might be discouraged from letting their children walk to school because of perceived safety risks, with impacts on health from less active travel and on children’s development in terms of preparing for unaccompanied walking to secondary school and developing independence. If any SCPs are withdrawn, the alternative measures would ensure road safety would be maintained and our road safety work with schools (see above) could also provide reassurance.
- Where schools would prefer to retain an SCP, we would support them to offer this through a Service Level Agreement or to use volunteers, i.e. in a supervisory role controlling children.
- Schools’ budgets could be affected if a school decides to implement a SLA. However, this is not compulsory, and schools could decide not to take on this cost.
- There could be a negative environmental impact if the removal of SCPs results in more children being driven to school, with transport emissions increasing.
- There may be increased congestion caused by an increase in car journeys to school, with associated impacts on road safety and air quality affecting children walking to school and residents.
- Local communities may be impacted due to any change in the routes and transport methods that children and their families use to get to school.
- There would be a cost of maintaining any replacement measures which require regular maintenance. Implementing some solutions may also incur energy and communications charges. These costs would need to be accounted for, reducing the net savings anticipated from withdrawing the SCP service at a particular location.
If these proposals progress, they would likely lead to Hampshire County Council staff redundancies. The number of redundancies would depend on the outcome of the proposed review and the resulting changes that would be made. Effort would always be made to reduce staffing levels in a planned and sensitive way by managing vacancies as they arise, delivering savings through natural turnover and redeployment of staff and exploring voluntary redundancy. We would undertake consultation with staff and trade unions about workforce implications at the appropriate time and in accordance with our policies and procedures.
What alternatives have been considered?
There are other approaches that we could take that are not proposed at this time. In developing this proposal, we have also considered the following:
Maintain current level of service
This option is not being proposed because of the scale of the budget pressures faced by the County Council, and the legal requirement for the Authority to operate within budget. If we maintained current levels of spending, it would put additional pressure on other statutory or critical services to deliver increased savings. Statutory services are those we are legally required to provide. This may impact levels of service in these areas and our ability to operate within our budget.
Remove all SCP service funding without completing a review of alternative safety measures
We could remove all SCP funding and only provide SCPs when directly requested and funded by schools or other local parties. This option is not being progressed at this time because it doesn’t enable us to consider whether alternative safety measures would be appropriate.