Ipswich: Parents join fight to save lollipop lady Sally

IPSWICH: More than 200 parents, concerned for the safety of their children, are today sending out an SOS – to Save Our Sally.

Sally Hawkes has patrolled the crossings in Bramford Road and Kitchener Road for the last six years, ensuring thousands of children safely make their way to and from school.

Inspired to take her stop sign in hand, Mrs Hawkes, 58, applied for the job after watching her own son make a dash across the “dangerous spot” when he was a pupil at Springfield Junior School.

Today the parents of children at the school and the nearby Springfield Infants School in Wesley Way, have joined forces in a bid to make Suffolk County Council think twice about axing the vital service.

Under the council’s New Strategic Direction the entire �230,000 fund for schools crossing patrols, faces being cut.

Among the children crossed each day by Mrs Hawkes are Fiona Dyes’s children, 11-year-old James and Lizzie, eight. Mrs Dyes, one of the organisers of the campaign, said it is “vital” she is saved.

“Bramford Lane is a busy cut through,” she said. “It is not only the children who feel safer but everyone in the area. When she is off it is an absolute nightmare.

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“I know the council are saying it is parents’ responsibility to make sure their children get to school safely, but why then did they have lollipop ladies in the first place?

“We have had so much support so far, it has been great. We have already got more than 200 signatures.

“If the council cut Sally and all the other crossing patrols then we will see an increase in road accidents.”

Mrs Hawkes, a grandmother-of-eight, said she is “disgusted” by the plans after experiencing a number of “close calls”.

“To take this one bit of safety away is an awful decision which will put children’s lives at risk,” she said. “The council need to change their minds, these people need to come down and see just how busy it is.

“It is not just the children, I cross disabled people, blind people, older people, any member of the public.”

And the campaign is gathering support from the school, politicians and councillors across Ipswich.

Michael Lynch, headteacher at Springfield Junior School said he is very concerned.

“Sally is a very important part of our school community and she does a fantastic job,” he said. “With her going it makes it a less safe area for the children.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, pictured, said he has taken the issue to ministers in a bid to see if changes can be made to the law to make it cheaper for the county council to keep lollipop men and women.

He said: “I am very concerned that children should be able to get to school safely and where possible without the need to use a car.

And Whitehouse borough councillor David Ball added: “I would say it is one of the busiest crossings for children in Ipswich,” he said. “I would describe it as a no-brainer, it is unbelievably ridiculous to remove such a service.”

n What do you think of the council’s plans to axe school crossing patrols? Call the newsdesk on 01473 324788.