Knowle West residents are angry at proposed council cuts which could see them losing lollipop patrols outside schools and the shutting of local libraries.
The plans – subject to public consultation until 5 September – are part of a raft of measures by Bristol City Council to save over £4.7m over the next three years.
These include closing street toilets, reducing the number of city libraries to ten and removing around half of the city’s school crossing patrols – unless community, school or other options emerge. It will also be making changes to its Community Links centres for adults with learning disabilities and dementia to save £1.2m.
The council is also looking to make savings of £1.8m against its Supporting People budget – a free prevention service giving advice to people with mental health issues.
Neighbourhood Partnerships have already ceased and will be replaced with a local grants system.
Public meetings have been held across the city with Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees and Cabinet members. At The Park on 24 July, Mr Rees told the audience: “…If don’t find a way of delivering services we will be effectively taken over. If we don’t balance our budget the Government can send in their own team to balance our budget for us…”
On 12 September Mr Rees will be joining a national day of lobbying at Westminster to hand over a paper putting an alternative plan for the future of local government.
School Crossing Patrols
Three of the local schools under threat by the cuts are Christ the King Primary School, Oasis Academy Connaught and Knowle Park Primary.
Greenfield E-Act Academy and Parson Street Primary School could see the number of school crossing patrols reduced to two. Ilminster Avenue E-Act Academy will retain its school crossing patrol.
Children’s lives “at risk”
At Christ the King, parents have been urged to fill in the online consultation and make their views known.
Mum of three Kaylea Selby whose children attend the school said parents were angry at the threat of losing their lollipop lady, Carina Harvey, who has been there for 13 years.
She said: “…It’s going to be very dangerous. This school is manic with all the cars – and with the bend in the road as well, traffic doesn’t see the kids…”
Head teacher Matthew Condon said the school would be writing to the council and staff would also text parents over the summer holidays to remind them about the consultation deadline in September.
He said: “…This might not be a main road but a lot of our children come in by themselves. There are times when cars, motorbikes and cyclists go down this road incredibly quickly…
“…It gives greater safety to these children and without Carina – children’s lives are at risk…”
Carina, a local resident has also offered to have a pay cut of an hour in order to “make sure the children were safe”.
At Oasis Connaught Margaret Laird (61) has been working for the school for seven years.
Stephen Isles (67) who has two grandchildren at the school said: “A child will be knocked down at this rate. It’s a death trap as you get cars speeding through.”
A Bristol City Council spokesperson said no final decisions would be made until later this year. “…We are working closely with the community and the schools affected to reduce the impact of these savings as much as possible and find alternatives we can explore…”
Threatened library – another facility gone from Filwood?
Fear of losing their local library is also alarming many residents who feel it could be just another facility disappearing from their neighbourhood.
The council has presented three options for the library closures based on three priorities – deprivation and community need, the state of the building and how well it is used.
Marksbury Road and Wick Libraries are due to be axed and Filwood and Knowle Libraries score in only one priority.
As well as running activities for families after school and in the holidays, Filwood Library is also used by local schools and has free computers for public use.
Joan Roberts (67) from Knowle West has been coming to the library for 40 years and is a member of the weekly knitting group.
She says: “If the library went I’d be gutted. The group is somewhere for people to come , meet up with other people…. You also have the computers – they would have to go to Broadwalk to do job searches. Also where would the schools go?”
Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Communities, Councillor Asher Craig, said feedback from the consultation would help inform the final decision.
She said: “…we are open to suggestions such as integrating and possibly co-locating libraries with other services or community facilities…”
The consultation runs until 5 September. Visit www.bristol.gov.uk/yourneighbourhood