LOLLIPOP men and women across Essex could be saved as new ideas have been raised over how to fund them.

Basildon county councillor Kerry Smith has put forward suggestions for the 12 Local Highways Panels across Essex to take over responsibility for funding school crossing patrols in a bid to stop 55 lollipop men and woman being axed.

Essex County Council is considering scrapping the crossing patrols to save money, but underfire highways boss Rodney Bass has touted Mr Smith’s idea as “reasonable and interesting”

and something he must “consider very carefully”.

Each highways panel receives up to £1million a year to fund projects to improve road safety in their district.

Mr Smith, Ukip county councillors for Westley Heights division, said: “I think it will cost around £41,000 to keep the crossing patrols in Basildon and as we get £1million for the highways panel I don’t see why we can’t step in and fund it. Our lollipop men and women need to be kept.

Whatever money County Hall is saving is not justifiable when it means putting children’s lives at risk.”

It is thought County Hall could save around £5,860 per crossing patrol per year.

It has suggested that local schools could foot the bill if they want their lollipop man or woman to stay on.

Mr Bass said: “We cannot confuse capital with revenue. The school crossing patrol service is largely funded out of revenue whereas the highways panels are largely capital.

“I too value the school crossing patrols and what I am seeking is a sensible balance in the funding responsibilities which should, in my view, also involve the schools’ budgets or some other form of sponsorship locally and not be borne wholly by the highways service.”