Calls for Beccles lollipop lady to be saved

Parents yesterday spoke out at plans to axe Beccles' last known lollipop lady as they signed a petition to save the service.

Euro MP Richard Howitt joined parents, children and residents to launch a petition calling on Suffolk County Council to abandon plans to cut the Crowfoot Primary School crossing patrol in Ellough Road.

The crossing has been manned by 70-year-old Beryl Currie for many years.

The county council is reviewing the role of lollipop men and women as part of its cost-saving plans.

The proposal is to scrap all of the 60 positions in Suffolk, as well as four relief positions, saving approximately �174,000.

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In total there are 14 posts in Lowestoft, one in Beccles and three in Bungay, although two of these are vacant.

Beccles town councillor and Crowfoot Primary School governor Alan Thwaites said: 'We must try and ensure this sort of provision is not withdrawn through divestment of Suffolk County Council services.

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'It is important to me as someone who used to go to this school that the youngsters are looked after.

'This sort of provision does not cost the county council a great deal of money. People do have a habit of speeding on this road.'

Residents say the road is particularly hazardous because its serves a number of housing estates as well as an industrial estate.

Mother-of-two Lisa Wood said: 'I think it is really important for the children to have the crossing. So many cars do not stop. They see you standing there and just go past.'

Warren Marris, whose eight-year-old son Jevan goes to the school, said: 'There are better places to make cuts. It shouldn't affect the kids. I think it is vital, especially here.'

Mr Howitt, who championed new measures to reduce the number of road deaths by half in the next 10 years at the European Parliament, said a European study showed that the presence of school crossing patrols means that cars drive nearly 2 mph more slowly.

He added: 'As a parent I know how important it is for children to get to school safely.

'The county council has a totally warped sense of priorities if they can't see what a terrible decision this will be.

'They say that they need to save money. But I ask what put do you put on a child's life?

'Thousands of children will be put at risk every day. Thousands of parents will have to change their lives around in order to walk their children to school, or even to drive them adding to the congestion and pollution around schools in the morning.'

The future of the school crossing patrol service will be considered at a Suffolk County Council meeting on February 17.

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