Ipswich: Miracles do happen - lollipop patrols are saved

IPSWICH: Campaigners fighting to save lollipop patrols in Ipswich today welcomed news that the soon-to-be leader of Suffolk County Council has offered the service a reprieve.

Mark Bee made it one of his first pledges as he prepares to take up the role as leader, signalling a U-turn in the council’s recent policy towards crossing patrols.

The service, which costs around �220,000 to fund, faced the axe under plans for the New Strategic Direction, prompting thousands of concerned parents to petition the council.

But after being elected yesterday, Mr Bee said: “In the case of school crossing patrols, I can assure residents that in the areas where the patrols are most needed, they will not now be stopped, unless or until a suitable alternative arrangement has been found.”

Sally Hawkes, the lollipop lady at the centre of the Save Our Sally campaign, organised by parents at Springfield Infants and Junior Schools, was “surprised” at the news.

“Miracles do happen,” she said. “This is a great relief, the prospect of no lollipop patrols has been weighing on my mind and the minds of hundreds of parents.

“On the face of it, it seems the county council has finally seen sense.

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“It is absolutely wonderful news, all the hard work of parents over the last few months has been really worth while.”

And Fiona Dyes, one of the parents who campaigned to save Mrs Hawkes, added: “It is brilliant, I can’t believe it.

“It is not just about saving the money for the wage bill, this has been about ensuring children don’t lose the life skills learnt from lollipop ladies.

“My son doesn’t listen to me when crossing roads, but as soon as Sally tells him he listens, they are vitally important in helping children learn about road safety.”

Another parent, Sue Miller, who campaigned to save Margaret Conway, the lollipop lady serving Dale Hall Primary School, added: “It is great to hear someone standing up for common sense and the safety of our children.

“There is a reason we have had lollipop patrols for more than 60 years and we need them now more than ever.

“If this means we can retain a comprehensive and sustainable lollipop patrols in all the areas that need it, it is good news for more than 13,000 who signed petitions across the county.”

n What’s your reaction to the U-turn? Write to Your Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.