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Essex County Councillor Rodney Bass turns away lollipop petition
ESSEX County Council’s transport supremo Rodney Bass has refused to accept our petition calling on him to scrap plans to cut 55 school crossing patrols.
More than 1,100 readers have signed an online petition calling on the county council to rethink the proposals.
A further 400 people have signed petition forms.
However, Mr Bass, councillor responsible for highways, will not meet us to receive the petition.
A change of rules means cabinet members will no longer formally receive petitions with fewer than 14,000 signatures.
David Cheeseman, 73, who worked on crossings across north Essex for nine years, called on Mr Bass to take our campaign more seriously.
He said the councillor should spendamorning and afternoon at some of the crossings which could be scrapped before making any decisions.
He said: “I’ve been round most of the sites they’re looking at closing.
“They didn’t just pick them out of a hat and it’s ridiculous to think of closing them.”
Bruce Tuxford, chairman of governors at King’s Ford Junior School, Colchester, where a crossing is under threat, said setting a 14,000-signature limit is unrealistic.
He said: “When anybody is prepared to sign a petition, the bottom line is the council should take note.”
Mother of five Sarah Steel, 35, of Somercotes, Laindon, said: “I just think Essex County Council is a joke with the amount of silly rules and regulations it has.
“If we are so strapped for cash, why is this country giving millions away in foreign aid when we can’t afford to keep our lollipop men on patrol and street lights switched on?
“Clearly a lot of people feel strongly about this, so the council should listen.”
Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell offered to make a speech and present the petition in the House of Commons.
He said: “I am astonished the relevant councillor will not receive the petition.”
Essex County Council has proposed scrapping funding for crossing wardens where an existing pedestrian crossing already exists, to save £322,000. We contacted Mr Bass to see if he was willing to receive the petition.
He said: “We are still in consultation on this and therefore the appropriate way to proceed would be to return it to the organisers of the consultation (ie. officers) and it will then form part of the consultation response.”
A spokesman added: “Petitions can be handed into the council as it continues to engage in public consultation.”
The consultation was due to be discussed at a meeting of the authority’s place services and economic growth scrutiny committee.
WHEN WAS RULE CHANGED?
IN 2007, our former chief reporter, Tom Parkes, joined parents of pupils to hand over a petition bearing more than 1,700 names of people opposed to the then proposed closure of Alderman Blaxill.
He was allowed to hand over the petition at County Hall to Tracey Chapman, then the councillor responsible for education.
The council spokesman did not say when the bar on cabinet members accepting petitions was raised.
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