Thousands support Lowestoft lollipop men and women

More than 4,300 people have signed letters demanding that lollipop men and women at Lowestoft should be saved from Suffolk spending cuts.

Yesterday, the pile of 4,301 letters was put on display in the town centre as part of a drive to try to save the town's, and the wider area's, school crossing patrols from being axed by Suffolk County Council.

And on Tuesday, the mountain of 'save our lollipop people' letters will be delivered to the county councillor responsible for roads, transport and planning, Guy McGregor. in an effort to secure a change of heart.

The final decision on whether or not to dispense with all Suffolk's crossing patrols to save �174,000 will be taken at a full council meeting on February 17.

Seven of Lowestoft's 14 lollipop men and women took part in yesterday's cuts protest outside the Britten shopping centre. Lian Shepherd, from Carlton Colville, has led the fight to save the local patrols, which include four posts at Beccles and Bungay.

She had originally hoped 2,000 people from the area would sign letters of support, but said: 'We have got 4,301 letters: we are all absolutely delighted with the response over the last 23 days.

'We are all passionate about what we do to help to protect children. But it's great to see the people of Lowestoft and Waveney are just as passionate about the need for crossing patrols.

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'People have been stopping us in the streets asking to sign letters, and even motorists have stopped to sign them as well.'

The council wants to axe the patrols as part of a �43m mission to cut costs across the authority because of low levels of government funding. Council officials say they are looking to see if teachers and other volunteers can take over patrol duties instead.

The Lowestoft lollipop people, who earn up to �2,232 a year, were supp-orted yesterday by local councillors and former Waveney Labour MP Bob Blizzard, who said: 'I think these cuts are the cruellest cuts of all. These people are unsung heroes of the community: they work in all sorts of weather and are dedicated to keeping children safe.'

The letters are due to be presented to Mr McGregor on Tuesday at Suffolk's Endeavour House HQ by Sandy Martin, a county councillor from Ipswich. In total, 62 crossing patrol posts in Suffolk will be lost if councillors approve the cuts.

Mr McGregor said: 'Proposals relating to the future of the school crossing patrol service will be considered by [the] full council on February 17. No decisions have yet been taken. The council will consider all offers from teachers and volunteers to carry out patrol duties.

'Where there are changes to crossing patrol arrangements at a school, we ask the school to inform their parents as, ultimately, it is the responsibility of parents to ensure their children get to school safely.'