Outrage as council cuts mean lollipop lady won’t be replaced

IPSWICH: Hundreds of worried parents have signed a petition begging schools bosses to replace a lollipop lady who is preparing to hang up her stop sign.

Karen Old, who has worked outside Sidegate Primary School for nearly three years, claims irresponsible drivers have made her job too dangerous.

But her departure is all the more serious for children and parents because she will not be replaced – the position becoming the latest victim of the severe cuts in public spending.

Borough councillor for the Rushmere ward, Alasdair Ross, has organised a petition, gathering nearly 300 parents’ signatures calling for Mrs Old to be replaced.

Mr Ross said the removal of the crossing patrol would make a “very dangerous road even more dangerous”.

He added: “(It’s) all for a saving of just over �2,000.

“The wages for all the crossing patrols in Suffolk is �230,000, just slightly more than the county pay one person - Andrea Hill.”

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Concerned parent Vivianne Beasley, whose seven-year-old daughter goes to the school, said: “It is vital they have a lollipop lady. “She is wearing a bright, high-visibility jacket and people still don’t see her, so what chance does my seven-year-old daughter stand in the dark walking across the road?”

Mrs Old, 50, of Goring Road, Ipswich, said she could recall incidents where drivers had swerved around her and cars had stopped suddenly at her feet.

She said: “My safety and the safety of the children is at risk.

“It is only a matter of time before there is an accident. It has got to the stage I worry every time I step into the road.

“I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

Sidegate headteacher Andrew Waterman said he was working hard to find “a positive solution” and claimed anything that put children’s safety at risk was of “very great concern”.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “Suffolk County Council appreciates the dedication and commitment of all school crossing patrol staff. Like all other services, it is subject to recruitment restrictions.

“Where there are changes to crossing patrol arrangements we ask the school to inform parents as ultimately it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children get to school safely.”

n Are you concerned about the safety of your child? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or alternatively you can send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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