FAMILIES and councillors protested against Trafford proposals to withdraw funding for school crossing patrols on the busy A56 today – as hundreds of people sign petitions to halt the plans.

Changes to how patrols are funded have been proposed as part of Trafford Council’s 2017/18 budget, which is currently the subject of a public consultation.

The council announced it needs to save £22million next year and patrols becoming a traded service, with schools or community groups footing the bill for the service, is one of the cost-saving measures recommended.

However, the proposals have caused ripples across the borough, with political parties and families condemning the proposed move, with many fearing the 70 plus patrols will be lost.

Today, Friday, families gathered on the A56, a popular pedestrian route for St Matthew’s Primary School pupils in Stretford. The crossing at the gyratory, by Green Street, is currently patrolled. A 59-year-old woman was killed on the crossing in September.

Stretford councillors Tom Ross and Steve Adshead showed their support at the protest.

Cllr Ross said: “It’s a dreadful idea. Roads, like the A56, are far too busy, they need to have guarded school crossings. We will be campaigning to get this reversed.”

Cllr Adshead said the council should be taking responsibility and not passing it on to others.

“They have a moral duty,” he said. “The savings are peanuts when it comes to children’s safety and they have to think long and hard about it when roads like this are so dangerous.”

Zoe Taylor, from community group Two by Two, said she was “appalled” when she found out about the proposals and set up petition on Trafford Council’s website, entitled Save our School Crossing Patrollers.

In just two days, 600 people signed the petition.

She said: “Families, children and schools rely on this service, it is a fundamental part of communities. Without them, children will be knocked over, more cars will be on the roads and more parents will be forced to spend money on before and after school clubs so they can drop off around work. This cut affects far too many of our future generation for this to be allowed.

“We need to let the council know that their communities do not agree with what they are doing. This affects us, we need to make a stand. Since launching the petition I have had messages from parents, schools, local councillors and businesses all wanting to help out and petition the proposal. I don’t think anyone quite understands where the council’s rationale is here."

Labour councillor Mike Freeman has also set up a change.org petition.

This petition, Keep School Crossing Patrols under Council Control in Trafford, has garnered 561 signatures of support.

Cllr Freeman said: “Schools would have to make the difficult choice of deciding whether they can afford the service of a School Crossing Patrol whilst the council absolves itself of its responsibility for road safety, all in the name of saving money.

“It cannot be right that saving money is more of a priority and more important than road safety and the safety of our children.”

Cllr Jane Baugh, shadow executive member for children's services, branded the proposed move “outrageous”.

“Cllr Anstee said the austerity cuts they are making would never affect frontline services and yet he is prepared to put our children’s education at risk as well as children’s safety on our roads,” she said. “Road safety is a council responsibility it is the not the responsibility of our schools. What next? Asking schools to repair potholes around their schools?”

Trafford Council made a U-turn on a decision to scrap patrols two years ago but bosses are saying that is not the case with this proposal.

They said they are not proposing scrap the service, as other authorities have chosen to, but finding a way in which it can be funded. Training would be made available by the council for schools who wish to take this up. This would save the council £350,000 in the next financial year, is plans go ahead.

Cllr Sean Anstee, the leader of Trafford Council, said: “Trafford Council is facing tough financial decisions and needs to make £22m worth of savings in the next year against a total of £42m savings over three years.

“In order to achieve this a number of proposals have been put forward including offering schools, community groups and other organisations the option to take on school crossing patrols. The council has given this careful consideration and rather than cut the service, as other authorities in Greater Manchester have done, it would look to continue the service in another way.

“This is a proposal and part of the budget consultation the council has started and hopes residents and other interested parties will take part in. The council urges those taking part in the petition to take the time to fill out and add their concerns via the council's website.

“There are also two budget consultation events at Trafford Town hall on the November 23 from 6.30pm until 8pm and on December 3 from 10.30am until 12.30 pm at Altrincham Town Hall. Full details are available at trafford.gov.uk.”