Parents at a school that faces losing its lollipop man to council cuts have hit out at the ‘terrible’ decision they say will put their children in danger.
From September, Rochdale Council will no longer pay for patrols at 31 crossings where highways chiefs have assessed the road safety risk as being low.
These crossings serve 40 primaries and secondaries across the borough, although two academy schools do already pay for the service.
Council bosses say school resources have also been assessed – and it is now down to heads and governors to decide whether they want to stump up for the £4,000-per-year service.
But one school bracing itself for the loss of its lollipop man from the autumn is St Vincent’s RC Primary, in Norden.
Pupils at St Vincent’s are used to being helped across Caldershaw Road – near the junction with Cut Lane -at the beginning and end of every school day.
The crossing also serves pupils at neighbouring Caldershaw Primary School and Norden Community Primary School – which is about a mile away on Shawfield Lane.
And parents have reacted angrily to the news that their much-loved lollipop man may soon no longer be there to keep their children safe.
Harriet Spence, mum to Charlie, says there will be ‘uproar’ if council chiefs don’t have a swift rethink, adding that cars continue to go far to fast along Caldershaw Road, despite the speed bumps.
And Joanne Barnes, whose son James also goes to the school, is in agreement.
“It’s very much needed on this road, without this lollipop man you would not be able to cross with the children if you didn’t have one.
“It’s on a bend and it’s hard to see what’s coming,” she said.
Official letters were only sent to school on Thursday (March 14) and many parents said they were in the dark over the plans.
Emma Robinson, whose two boys Alfie and Finlay are pupils at St Vincent’s, slammed the decision as ‘awful’.
She added: “It’s definitely needed here, with the amount of cars that come up and down, it’s terrible, and he is really nice, he is the nicest lollipop man around.
“They are desperately needed, especially in the mornings when cars are flying out of the car park and the residential area – it is 100 per cent needed.
“It’s terrible, it’s the safety of the children we are talking about.”
And mum Emma Wild said she was also angry that the axe was hanging over St Vincent’s crossing.
She said: “Our boys are getting older now and will be going into Year Six in September – that’s the age parents are encouraged to start walking on their own to get them ready for high school,” she said.
“We would feel comfortable letting the children do that if the lollipop man was there, but if he’s not there, that’s not something we feel we could do.”
“That stops people walking to school – and it means more cars, which isn’t good.”
Another mum – who asked not to be named – said the crossing was a godsend for parents of children with special needs, such as her son.
She said the lollipop man was ‘brilliant’ with her child and in the past had stepped in to stop him coming from harm.
“It was a dangerous incident – some children don’t see risk,” she said.
“Many children with social communication issues don’t see risk or danger – and they can be quite impulsive,” she said.
“This road can become unbelievably busy and without him he would have been run over, definitely. He does a great job – he needs to stay and really the schools should not have to foot the bill.”
And one parent at neighbouring Caldershaw Primary, said she had similar concerns.
Sally Hall – mum to pupils Lola, seven, and four-year-old Elsa – said: “It’s terrible, it’s dangerous because it’s a bus route, there’s a lot of traffic and it’s already bad enough, we have already nearly been run over three times.
“To get rid of this one would just be horrific – it’s a really dangerous, busy road on a junction, with cars coming from everywhere.”
Norden Councillor Peter Winkler, who is also a governor at two of the affected schools – Caldershaw Primary and Norden Community primary – has now launched a petition against the cuts.
He said: “It’s going to be a problem here if we lose the crossing, it’s not just about Norden it’s 31 crossings that affect more than 31 schools.”
Council chiefs say years of cuts mean it cannot afford to provide all the services it used to provide.
However, a balanced budget for the coming financial year was voted through by the council last month – leaving Coun Winkler questioning the decision to axe dozens of lollipop men and women.
“This wasn’t in the budget, so why all of a sudden, so why all of a sudden we need to save that money I don’t really know,” he said.
“I understand there are cuts and we have to make savings but some things you can’t make cuts on. This is our children’s safety combined with 31 frontline jobs- there are better places to find those savings.”
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