Revealed: The Norfolk schools which could lose their lollipop men and women
- Credit: PA
Lollipop men and women could disappear from outside schools across Norwich, after research found they did not meet a national threshold set down by safety experts.
Norfolk County Council voted in 2014 to cut funding for school crossing patrols by £150,000 a year for two years, and in March it was agreed only those patrols which met the national threshold would be kept.
But there was a winter reprieve agreed in June when the suggested autumn implementation date was pushed back to April next year.
Now, after a monitoring exercise carried out over the summer term and first half of the autumn, the 38 patrols under threat – out of a total of 96 – have been revealed ahead of a Children's Services Committee meeting next week, with eight of them being in Norwich.
Criteria measured included the number of children crossing, the number and type of vehicles passing through the site, and what safety measures, such as speed bumps or zebra crossings, are in place.
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Four schools which have pelican crossings were not monitored, but were recorded as not meeting the threshold.
Councillors will be asked to review the findings of the exercise, and confirm their decision to only run sites which meet the national threshold.
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They will also look at whether to follow the current practice of not replacing staff who leave sites which do not meet the threshold, and discuss a consultation process with the public and staff.
If agreed, a full public consultation will start after November 15, with a staffing consultation running at the same time.
One school affected could be Cawston Church of England Primary Academy.
Headteacher Kay Swann said: 'We're concerned as our priority is the safety of the children getting to and from school, it's a busy time of the day.'
She said parents had been in contact with her to raise their concerns, and that their lollipop lady was a familiar face to pupils, some of whom walk to school on their own.
'We would definitely miss her,' she added.
Melodie Fearns, headteacher at St George's Primary School in Great Yarmouth, echoed these concerns.
She said: 'I was quite shocked to see us on the list.
'My concern is our entrance is almost directly onto the zebra crossing outside, and although there is a railing there I have a real concern the children could run straight onto the road.'
She said there had recently been a dog hit by a car outside the school, and she was worried it could be a child next. She also added that cars sped along St Peter's Road, where the school is based, as it was just set back from the seafront.
'We're talking about children's lives here,' she said.
Issues and risks recognised in the council report
In the council report, it was recognised this was an emotive issue, but it said schools had already been offered training and advice on road safety issues. Those who were affected by the removal of crossing patrols were also set to be offered a visit.
The report said: 'There may be concern by some that the removal of the RCP site may lead to incidents involving children and motor vehicles. Colleagues in CES have looked at accident reports on or near the affected sites for the last six years and confirmed that there have been a total of 22 reported incidents near to these sites in that time.
'Only two involved pedestrians.
'One of our own RCP staff 'threw herself to the floor' as she did not think a car was going to stop.
'The other was a young person (not primary age) at 7.45am who failed to correctly use the pelican crossing.
'The remaining incidents involved two and four wheeled vehicles near to our RCP sites, not on them.'
The approximate cost to run all 96 of the road crossing patrols (RCP) this year is £270,000. This was made up of the £245,000 to run the sites, plus £25,000 for a RCP manager, travel, recruitment and equipment.
However, the current RCP budget is £128,610 – leaving a shortfall of £141,390.
In 2017/18 the RCP budget will be around £171,000 to run the remaining 58 sites, but it is thought an additional £42,360 would be required.