Headteacher's fear as school crossing patrols in Sheffield are axed

A headteacher says his pupils are facing daily danger, as it emerged the number of school crossing patrols in Sheffield has fallen by a quarter.

Friday, 6th January 2017, 1:39 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 12:02 pm
Pupils outside Loxley Primary School with headteacher James Connolly

In 2012/13, there were 79 lollipop people helping schoolchildren safely cross roads across the city, but that number has dropped to 58.

At Loxley Primary School, where the crossing patrol ended last autumn, headteacher James Connolly says he has already had to stick his hand out three times to prevent children walking out in front of cars.

Pupils at Loxley Primary School are campaigning for a new lollipop person to help them cross the road safely

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He claims it is only a matter of time before one of his pupils is injured if the patrol is not restored.

"I witness the repercussions of losing the crossing patrol on a daily basis," he said.

"I've had to put my arm out three times to stop a child trying to cross the road while traffic was going past. Goodness knows what would have happen had I not been there to do that.

"Sooner or later there will be an accident at the school. I'm convinced of that."

Pupils at Loxley Primary School are campaigning for a new lollipop person to help them cross the road safely

The lollipop person at Loxley retired in September and was not replaced as the site was not deemed dangerous enough, based on national criteria taking into account the volume of traffic and the number of children crossing.

More than 150 people have since signed a petition to get it reinstated, which Mr Connolly presented at Wednesday's (January 4) full council meeting.

The crossing patrol at Loxley was one of seven at primary schools across Sheffield which ended last year, two of which are vacant pending the appointment of a new lollipop person.

The others are: Athelstan, Foxhill, High Green (vacant), Nether Edge (vacant), Sharrow and Woodthorpe.

Sheffield Council is looking into whether schools could fund the cost of providing the service themselves, which Mr Connolly estimates would be around £2,500 a year.

However, Mr Connolly said his school would struggle to find the money, as it already faces a cut of around £20,000 to its budget over the next two years.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council's cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, said: "School safety is a top priority and we are in ongoing conversations with the headteacher and parents at Loxley Primary School.

"Our parking officers are working closely with the police to ensure motorists park safely outside schools and we also work with schools and staff to ensure that children act safely when travelling to school.

"We've also introduced new 20mph zones – and will soon announce more – and speed indicating devices have been introduced which will make our roads across the city safer.

"As part of improving the safety of the road outside Loxley Primary School the School Keep Clear markings and signs were recently updated to enable our parking service officers to enforce dangerous parking."

Sheffield Council expects to spend just shy of £173,000 on school crossing patrols this financial year, a Freedom of Information request by The Star revealed.

That is slightly more than the £167,000 spent in 2015/16, but well down on the £205,000 allocated for the service in 2012/13.