Road safety takes a licking as lollipop attendants forced to put signs away

School crossing supervisor Judy Bray on call to stop traffic for students.
School crossing supervisor Judy Bray on call to stop traffic for students.

MELBOURNE children on their way to school may be forced to cross dangerous roads without the help of a lollipop attendant because of VicRoads funding changes.

A reduction of five students using a crossing could result in it no longer being eligible for a crossing supervisor, it has been revealed.

VicRoads has confirmed some councils ''may not be funded for all existing school crossing supervisors'' but said other councils would receive more funding in the coming financial year. Frankston Council is one council on the losing end.

Last year, 67 of its crossings were funded by VicRoads and this year it applied to increase that number to 74.

The council said it has been told only 61 crossings will be funded - a reduction of about $30,000.

''If we don't get anywhere with VicRoads and they don't do the right thing, then we'll most likely have to face paying out redundancies,'' Frankston mayor Sandra Mayer said.

''Of all the areas to make cuts, children's safety being involved is just unacceptable,'' Cr Mayer said.

A spokeswoman for Roads Minister Terry Mulder would not answer questions on the funding model for level crossing attendants but said ''there is no reduction in funding to this program.''

Cr Mayer said she was appalled ''that the safety of hundreds of children could come down to such petty number crunching'', and cited examples where the affected schools had not met VicRoads' minimum pedestrian or traffic count by five pedestrians or less.

She said that the cuts would affect the community as a whole, and were ''contrary to everything we're doing to improve our community''.

''Less crossings means less kids will be walking to school, which means more traffic on the roads as parents drive them instead,'' she said.

Langwarrin Park Primary School principal Ray Flanagan said the idea of having students crossing the road at an unmanned crossing was very concerning. ''We're located at the busiest thoroughfare on Cranbourne Road and Josephine Street, and a huge number of students cross here,'' he said.

Mr Flanagan said that although in dire circumstances, teachers were able to supervise the crossing, it is officially the role of council representatives.

''My staff are not trained in this, and it puts teachers in a difficult situation if a child becomes injured,'' he said.

In January, schools received a letter from Frankston Council that said: ''As you may be aware, school crossings in Victoria are partially subsidised by the state government.

''Council has been informed that at this stage, 13 school crossings will not be subsidised by VicRoads in the forthcoming financial year.''

And it may not just be schools in Frankston that are affected.

VicRoads director of road safety strategy Julian Lyngcoln confirmed some crossings may not be funded in other councils.

''Although some councils may not be funded for all existing school crossing supervisors, other municipalities will receive increased funding,'' he said.

''Overall, across Victoria as a whole, there will be an increase in the amount of school crossing supervisors funded by VicRoads for the 2013-14 period.''

Frankston MP Geoff Shaw's office referred Fairfax to the office of the Minister for Transport and Roads.

This story Road safety takes a licking as lollipop attendants forced to put signs away first appeared on The Age.