Cuts to council budgets are leading to mass redundancies of crossing staff outside school across the country, according to an investigation by the Mirror.
The newspaper claims that 1,000 lollipop workers have been dismissed from their roles in an effort to save cash, a move that is likely to increase the risk of an accident outside school gates.
The decision to axe the lollipop staff – an institution seen outside schools during the busy morning and afternoon rush since 1954 – is also unlikely to aid council coffers significantly, with each earning on average just £3,000 a year.
Councils have already been criticised over the decision. Deputy head teacher Russel Thorne, who saw two children hit by a van outside his school in East Sussex after they lost their lollipop lady, told the Mirror: “I am sure the people who end up making these ¬decisions can see the folly of this. There has to be another way of making these cuts. They could have blood on their hands.”
“Unrepaired potholes, streetlights being switched off and cuts to bus services are already making it more dangerous for children to get to school. Parents will be alarmed.”
Lollipop lady Karin Williams, who courageously saved five pupils by throwing herself in front of a car, echoed his sentiments.
“It’s outrageous and simply makes no sense,” she said.
The lay-offs were exposed by Shadow Local Government Minister Andy Sawford following a Freedom of Information request to councils across England.
Only three quarters of the 121 authorities responded to the request, of which 70 per cent had made cuts to crossing staff, and that a total of 992 crossing guards had been dismissed since 2010.
Mr Sawford said: “Unrepaired potholes, streetlights being switched off and cuts to bus services are already making it more dangerous for children to get to school. Parents will be alarmed,” reported the Mirror.
In some cases, lollipop staff have only been able to keep their jobs after local companies or individuals have stepped in to fund their wages in the interest of children’s safety.
Essex council took the step of asking 55 schools to find £5,860 per year to fund their own lollipop staff, or risk losing them.
In 2012, 6,106 children were involved in road accidents outside the school gates, with 827 receiving serious or fatal injuries.
Have your children been affected by cuts to crossing staff? Do you feel confident about road safety outside their school? Have your say below.