SCHOOL crossing patrols across Dudley borough could be under threat once more.

Last year, cash-strapped Dudley Council proposed to save £395,000 a year by charging schools for the non-statutory service.

But following strong opposition and a petition signed by almost 9,000 parents, the council put the plans on hold at the start of this year.

Since then, Public Health Grant Funding has been used to temporarily fund the service but council bosses say the time has now come to explore permanent funding arrangements.

A review of the service has been carried out, taking into consideration the views of children parents and teachers, to identify future options.

The findings, which will be discussed at a meeting of the council's Place Scrutiny Committee on Thursday, revealed that 55 out of the borough's 79 school patrol sites did not meet national criteria.

The report states: "The council is at present funding school crossing patrol sites that do not satisfy the minimum criteria for such a service.

"The national criteria for school crossing patrols is widely accepted and does enable councils to provide substantial satisfactory evidence and justification to remove a school crossing patrol where the site does not meet the criteria, without putting children at risk."

However 85 per cent of the primary school children who took part in the review said that patrols helped them to cross the road safely.

In contrast, under half of parents said it helped provide a safe route for their child and only 35 per cent of these parents said they relied on the patrols to provide a safe crossing for their child.

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, cabinet member for environmental services, said: “We know how important school crossing patrols are to some people.

"We want to see the school crossing patrol service continue to encourage children and families to walk to school rather than jump in the car.

"The outcomes of the studies we have carried out will be considered by a scrutiny working group in order to identify what options we have for continuing to provide a service into the future.”