'They didn't listen and it's a sad day'
CAMPAIGNERS say they are 'bitterly disappointed' that efforts to save lollipop patrols and a city care home from council cuts have failed.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council today confirmed that almost all of its £21 million cuts proposals will go ahead as planned.
Three lollipop patrols have been saved from the axe after safety assessments – at St Teresa's, Gladstone and Sandon Primary – but 40 will be cut.
The authority says schools must now find volunteers, ask existing staff to carry out the job or pay for the service using their budgets.
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Mick Booth's wife Wendy has worked as a lollipop warden at Newstead Primary School for four years.
Mr Booth, of Meir, said: "I'm appalled. Just one accident will be too many. Wendy has had several near misses.
"If they were to get rid of just one executive on £60,000 they could pay for 20 crossing wardens to help keep children safe."
Plans to shut St Michael's care home for rehabilitation, in Chell, will go ahead to save an initial £883,000.
The 30-bed centre helps vulnerable and elderly patients rehearse basic skills before returning home after a spell in hospital.
The council insists it can provide a better, cheaper service in people's own homes and that half of the 60 staff affected will be employed in the new service.
John Davis, chairman of North Staffordshire Pensioners' Convention, said: "I'm bitterly disappointed that common sense has failed.
"St Michael's provides fantastic care and it will be impossible to provide the same standard of service and facilities in people's homes without costing the public purse more in the long run.
"They've spent millions making this much-needed home a centre for excellence, now they're just going to shut it down. It's a sad day."
Councillor Dave Conway, leader of the opposition City Independents, said: "They have not listened to the people. What was the consultation for if they were going to carry on anyway?
"They say they have no alternatives. They must remember that Labour is an opposition party too – to the Tories in national Government. So where are their alternatives to these spending cuts?"
The council said it has cut the number of senior officers from 37 to 16 in two years – saving £2.3 million.
Council and Labour leader Mohammed Pervez said: "The Government cuts are so deep that they have to impact on some frontline services.
"There's no two ways about it. Savings have to be made.
"A lot of people have made comments about savings but not many alternatives have been put forward.
"Opposition councillors are attacking savings proposals but they too have not put forward any credible alternatives.
"My challenge to them is that it's clear we need to save £100 million in four years. They've moaned year on year about what we're doing, so let's hear how they would deliver £100 million in savings.
"It's getting tougher and tougher to just limit cuts to service redesign and back office. We are trying to generate growth and protect the most vulnerable."
The full council must now approve the budget at a meeting on February 28.