CHILDREN’S lives are at risk because of a shortage of school crossing patrols.
That’s the view of parents and school workers across Portsmouth as shocking new figures revealed today by The News show almost a third of crossing patrols in the city are empty as the council struggles to recruit.
Portsmouth City Council say there are 22 vacancies which need to be filled, some of which have been vacant for more than a year.
Now we are urging people to come forward and become lollipop workers to help keep our children safe.
At Francis Avenue in Southsea, near Devonshire Infants and Fernhurst Juniors, the last lollipop man outside the school left 18 months ago and has not been replaced.
Meanwhile, Hilary Road in Cosham has been short of a school crossing patrol worker since last year.
Barry Clarke, school caretaker at Fernhurst, has had to fill in as a traffic warden on occasions. He said: ‘From my point of view there is a very high risk of a child being knocked over and this grows every day that there isn’t a lollipop person watching the road as kids get more confident.
‘Parents aren’t as vigilant when they’ve got kids running all over the place and this road is a speed trap as cars hurtle down.’
Former lollipop lady Lisa Hedges now works as a teaching assistant at the school. She said: ‘It’s disgusting to think that when I started in 2005 there were five lollipop wardens and now there are only three watching the two schools on this road, and none outside on Francis Avenue.’
Kerry Bralee, a school governor, and mother of eight-year-old George who attends Fernhurst, says the job responsibilities are partly to blame.
She said: ‘It’s actually quite a dangerous job and you get abuse from all sorts of people, parents, drivers and even kids.
‘Even so, it’s up to Portsmouth City Council to replace the wardens with other safety measures even if it’s just a PCSO or something because I don’t think leaving the vacancy open is good enough. Kids’ lives are at risk.’
Parent Sally Everleigh, of Milton, said the Highland Road-Winter Road junction near Craneswater Junior School also needed an attendant.
‘I’ve seen a lot of near misses and heard a lot of screeching brakes,’ she said. ‘I’m amazed no-one’s been seriously hurt before.’
Councillor Donna Jones, leader of the city council, said: ‘There have been historic issues with recruiting staff to the school crossing patrol positions.
‘It’s doing something that can really help young people across Portsmouth, particularly in a city that is so densely populated and has traffic congestion.’
Councillor Neill Young, cabinet member for children and education, said: ‘These crossing patrols are crucial to ensuring that our children get to school safely. I would encourage people to think about it. It does have a real impact on children and their safety.’
The positions are for 10 hours a week, offering wages of £7.33-£8.01 per hour.
If you could fill one of these positions, contact Sue McDermott at the council on (023) 9284 1155.
Where patrols are needed
Sultan Road/Malins Road, Buckland (Ark Dickens Primary Academy)
St Mary’s Road/Shearer Road, Buckland (Portsmouth Academy for Girls/Penhale Infants/Manor Infants)
St Mary’s Road/Moorland Road, Kingston (Portsmouth Academy for Girls/Penhale Infants/Manor Infants)
Eldon Street, Southsea (Cottage Grove Primary)
Court Lane/Lonsdale Avenue, Cosham (Court Lane Infants and Juniors)
Tregaron Avenue/Dysart Avenue, Cosham (Court Lane Infants and Juniors)
Court Lane/Hilary Avenue, Cosham (Court Lane Infants and Juniors)
St Ronans Road, Southsea (Craneswater Juniors)
Highland Road/Winter Road, Southsea (Craneswater Juniors)
Francis Avenue, Southsea (Devonshire Infants and Fernhurst Juniors)
Jubilee Road/Devonshire Square, Southsea (Devonshire Infants and Fernhurst Juniors)
Highbury Grove/Dovercourt Road, Cosham (Highbury Primary)
Chatsworth Avenue/Dovercourt Road, Cosham (Highbury Primary)
Allaway Avenue, Paulsgrove (Victory Primary/King Richard/St Paul’s Primary/Beacon View Primary)
Milton Road/St Mary’s Road, Milton (Langstone Infants and Juniors)
Milton Road/Baffins Road, Copnor (Langstone Infants and Juniors)
Euston Road/Warren Avenue, Milton (Meon Infants and Juniors)
Pembroke Road, Old Portsmouth (St Jude’s CoE Primary)
Gladys Avenue/North End Avenue, North End (Stamshaw Infants and Juniors)
Neville Road/Tangier Road, Copnor (Westover Primary)
Moorings Way/Warren Avenue, Milton (Moorings Way Infants)
Dunbar Road, Milton (Milton Park Infants/Juniors).