ALMOST 500 signatures and responses have been received to a petition and online survey by parents at a Helensburgh primary school on the future of their lollipop crossing patrol service.

A total of 244 people signed a paper petition at Hermitage Primary School – nearly one for every family at the school – requesting that Argyll and Bute Council should make maintaining funding for school patrols a top priority in its forthcoming budget.

A further 246 responses were received to an online survey conducted by the school’s parent council, who also administered the petition.

The petition was sparked by a list of 'savings options', published by the council in December, which included scrapping school crossing patrols across the area and shutting down the authority's road safety unit – a move which, it's estimated, would save more than £700,000.

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Of those who responded, 95 per cent said protecting the school should be a top priority for Argyll and Bute councillors and officials, with 75 per cent stating it should be their top priority to the exclusion of all others.

Rhona Black, chair of the Hermitage parent council, said: “Ninety eight per cent said that their child used the school patrol service, and 87 per cent use it every single day.

“Eighty nine per cent said that if the service is withdrawn, the level of risk increases to an unacceptable level. The roads do not feel safe to cross.

“And 50 per cent of respondents’ children generally walk without an adult.”

The survey also found that if the service is withdrawn, 81 per cent said it would change how they allowed their child to get to school.

More than one in four respondents indicated that they would instead use their car to take their child to lessons at Hermitage.

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Rhona added: “It’s reasonable to conclude from this last statistic that it is highly likely there would be an increase in traffic around Hermitage Primary should the lollipop service be withdrawn.

“An increase in road traffic which would coincide with the removal of one of the best means of ensuring children and families cross roads safely to and from school each day.”

The council’s policy and resources committee is set to debate the 2019-20 budget further on Thursday, February 14. Reports for the committee meeting are expected to be available online from Friday.

The parent council intends to send the results of its petition and survey to councillors.

At a recent meeting, parents and pupils at the school also rallied to keep the patrol service going.

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Rhona added: “Parents and carers discussed how Hermitage Primary Parent Council (HPPC) could represent the views of our parent forum to Argyll and Bute Council.

“We also asked for a contribution from the pupil council, who had canvassed views around the school prior to the meeting.

“They were represented by two pupil reps, Mya Dickinson and Connor Hicks, who both talked about the impact of the school crossing patrols on the school and why it was important to keep them.”