Give our lollipop patrol back, say Portsmouth children who must cross main road

CROSS Community governor Gerry Oldfield with George Marston and Shenice Johnson.  Picture: Sarah Standing (114364-7087)
CROSS Community governor Gerry Oldfield with George Marston and Shenice Johnson. Picture: Sarah Standing (114364-7087)
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CHILDREN who have to cross a busy road outside their school gates are pleading – give us our lollipop lady back.

Youngsters from Newbridge Juniors say there have been near misses with cars every day since Portsmouth City Council withdrew the school crossing patrol in September.

Newbridge sits on New Road in Buckland, which is a rat-run for rush-hour traffic between the Copnor and Kingston roads.

Staff and pupils hoped a zebra crossing, which the council installed in September, would make the crossing safer.

But just two weeks later the council took away the lollipop lady – making the road more dangerous than ever before, according to pupils.

George Marston, 10, the school’s junior road safety officer, said: ‘It’s only a matter of time before one of us gets hit and badly injured, or worse.

‘It’s unacceptable that the council has taken away our lollipop lady. The whole school was in shock when we found out.

‘The road has always been a bit dangerous, but without our lollipop lady the cars just go whizzing past at 30 to 40mph.

‘I have to wait anything between 10 seconds and five minutes to cross the road, because drivers don’t bother to stop.’

George, who is also deputy head of the school council, said he was frustrated by the city council’s failure to take action.

He said: ‘We had a meeting with the city council a few weeks ago and we thought it went well, but nothing’s been done about it.

‘They’re good at highlighting the green cross code but not at enforcing it.

‘The message that sends us is we will have to wait until a child gets killed before we get our lollipop lady back.’

Shenice Johnson, 10, head of the school council, added: ‘We won’t stop fighting until we get our lollipop lady back.

‘It’s only a matter of time before something terrible happens.’

Headteacher Claire Stevens is so concerned about her pupils’ safety she has contacted health and safety officials at the council.

She said: ‘I told them a child will die if they don’t act.

‘I’ve had my assistant head and other members of staff helping children cross safely, but they have their own jobs to do and can’t be on call all day.

‘I’m so angry at the number of children who have been missed narrowly on that road – it’s happening every day. With our lollipop lady things were not nearly this bad.’

Pam Turton, the council’s assistant head of service for traffic and transport, said: ‘Unfortunately, we do not have enough lollipop people to cover all sites, and so our priority must be at sites where there is no crossing support.

‘A zebra crossing was introduced to improve road safety for pupils.’

She added the council had plans to introduce additional warning signs for drivers and would consider zig-zag markings.