Bid to save lollipop patrols defeated

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SUFFOLK County Council has approved its controversial budget which will introduce £42.5 million worth of cuts, a slew of job losses and a freeze in council tax.

The Conservative-led authority agreed the plans following an emotionally charged six hour meeting, where protesters and opposition members battled in vain to save services.

The budget was approved by 43 votes to 18 with no abstentions.

More than 1,400 posts are to be lost in the next two years and services axed include the school crossing patrols, the Explore discount travel card for young people and seven household waste recycling centres.

The fight to save the crossing patrols dominated the start of the meeting but an amendment to keep them by Labour Cllr Sandy Martin was voted down.

Members of the public including a parent, attendant and Bury St Edmunds head teacher Tania Johnson made passionate pleas to councillors.

Petitions featuring 13,000 signatures had also been submitted.

When discussing the amendment, the opposition slammed the plans.

Green Party Cllr Mark Ereira-Guyer said: “It has almost become the flagship for the New Strategic Direction. I think you got off to a bad start on that one. You’ve almost contaminated the ground before you started.”

Independent Cllr Trevor Beckwith said: “This is the thing that has wound everyone up. Why don’t you just bite the bullet and do a u-turn?”

However Cllr Guy McGregor, portfolio holder with responsibility for transport, defended the moves and said it would be ‘better’ for the school crossing patrols to be devolved locally.

The amendment was defeated after 40 voted against with 26 in favour.