Children ‘are in danger’ after council scraps Gosport school’s lollipop man

CONCERNS have been raised about the potential for more accidents outside a school - after the council refused to replace the lollipop man.

Monday, 21st January 2019, 6:14 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:04 pm
Kirsty Smillie who is the deputy head at Brune Park Community Schools Enterprise Academy protests with supporters following a decision to scrap the school lollipop man in Military Road, Gosport. (l to r), Councillor Keith Farr, Mark Smith, Emma Smith, and Emmas daughter Isabella Smith (six). Picture: Ian Hargreaves (200119-1)

Teachers in Gosport say that children are in danger of being involved in more incidents around Brune Park School in Military Road, following Hampshire County Council’s decision not to employ a new school crossing patrol officer.

But the council says that its new policy is not to replace outgoing officers at secondary schools - instead focusing more on education programmes.

Deputy headteacher of the nearby Enterprise Academy, Kirsty Smillie, believes that ‘children’s lives are in danger’ if the council does not change its mind.

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She said: ‘The council’s statistics show that those most at risk of being involved in an accident are secondary school students.

‘Last year, three students ended up in hospital after accidents in Military Road, which is already far too high.

‘I think it’s disgusting that this extra help is being taken away – especially for those children with additional needs.’

Miss Smillie says that a lot of cars use Military Road as a rat run, subsequently making it a fast-moving street - even during school drop-off hours.

She explained: ‘You can hear cars whizzing up and down all day long, and I can see them from my office window.

‘I’ve been a teacher for 12 years and seen children get run over on this road plenty of times. Without someone to make these cars stop, there will be more accidents in the future.

‘Children’s lives are being put in danger by.’

The council has apparently told secondary schools that they can either act as school crossing patrols, or hire one themselves.

Miss Smillie said: ‘At the end of the day, we are teachers, not traffic wardens, and the council has cut so much of our budget that we could never afford to hire someone to do it.’

At Havant Academy, teachers do stand outside of school to see children off.

But headteacher Victoria Adams says that she can’t stand the idea of having nobody outside looking after the children.

She said: ‘We go out ourselves and the staff do it without complaint – I think they enjoy being able to properly see off the children at the end of the day.

‘But the road we are on is a very busy road with a lot of parked cars on it, so it would be dangerous if there wasn’t anyone looking out for the students.

‘Children are taught how to cross a road but accidents do happen, so I can see where they are coming from.’

Councillor Rob Humby, executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, says that resources must be used where they are ‘most needed’.

Cllr Humby explained: ‘When a school crossing patrol officer resigns or retires, we always review the post to make sure it still meets the criteria set by national guidelines and local policy.

‘This is so that we can be sure the County Council’s resources are used where they are most needed, to be fair to all Hampshire’s council taxpayers.

‘For some time, our policy has been to provide to school crossing patrol officers at primary schools only which meet the criteria.

‘At the few sites where, historically, a school crossing patrol officer has been provided at a secondary school, our approach is not to replace them when they resign or retire.’

Cllr Humby instead believes that the workshops and school assemblies lined up for students will serve as ample protection against a rise in incidents.

He said: ‘For this age group, our road safety approach is on targeted education programmes.

‘Secondary school aged children are more likely to make more journeys independently of their parents than younger children, and our focus is to help them become more aware as they cross roads on all days not just school days.

‘At Brune Park, our road safety team have delivered a number of workshops and assemblies to increase road safety awareness among this age group.’