Parents concern over low crossing patrol numbers

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PARENTS have voiced growing concerns over the lack of crossing patrol officers outside schools.

When schools in Portsmouth started at the beginning of term, parents noticed that the lollipop men and women were no longer patrolling certain roads.

DISPLEASED Paul Benet, 43, and his daughter Georgia, eight. Picture: Malcolm Wells (132470-1255)

DISPLEASED Paul Benet, 43, and his daughter Georgia, eight. Picture: Malcolm Wells (132470-1255)

One parent, Paul Benet, whose eight-year-old daughter attends Copnor Junior School, Copnor Road, was shocked when he discovered there was no crossing patrol officer helping the school children.

He said: ‘I think it’s totally wrong that there is no longer someone outside the school.

‘The kids can’t go to school on their own because it is too dangerous.

‘I know there are traffic lights there but the pavement is too narrow.

‘Portsmouth City Council extended the pavement on the opposite side of the school but not the actual school side.

‘When the kids finish, there are loads of them crossing at once and all it takes is an accidental push and one of them can end up in the road.

‘The lollipop man used to stand there and use his stick as a barrier.’

But Copnor Junior is not the only school without a lollipop person this year.

Grandparent, Robert Dennis got concerned after the lollipop woman was no longer outside Court Lane School, in Cosham.

He said: ‘Children have started the new term walking to school as usual with their parents expecting them to be protected when crossing this busy offset crossroads.

‘I am extremely concerned that child safety can be compromised in this way.

‘I understand that money is tight but to put child safety at risk in this way is unacceptable.

‘I strongly believe that the lollipop lady should be reinstated.’

In the past three years, the number of crossing patrol officers in Portsmouth has decreased by 18. But there is only one job advertised on the council website.

Pam Turton, Portsmouth City Council’s assistant head of service for transport and environment, said: ‘Following a number of resignations during the summer we do not have as many school crossing patrollers as we did last year.

‘As a result, we have to work with the staff we have to ensure wherever possible the busiest school crossing sites across the city are patrolled.

‘We follow RoadSafety GB National School Crossing Patrol Guidelines, which state that a school crossing patroller on a light-controlled crossing is contradictory and can be confusing to drivers and be a safety issue. Therefore we have moved patrollers away from these sites.

‘Safety of children is our priority and we are seeking to recruit new patrollers as soon as possible but unfortunately this recruitment does take some time.’

DISTRICTS HAVE SEEN A STEADY NUMBER IN OFFICERS

IN THE past three years, crossing patrol numbers in Gosport, Fareham and Havant have been steady.

In Gosport, the number currently stands at 45, three less than the total September in 2010.

Havant has also seen a decrease with it now standing at 38 – five less than 2010.

Fareham is the only area that has seen an increase with the number now standing at 41 rather than 40.

But Hampshire County Council is now advertising five crossing patrol jobs to replace those who have left over the recent years.