Lost lollipop lady blow for Norfolk schools

Fresh fears have been raised over children's safety after it emerged that any vacant posts for lollipop men and women will not be filled.

The news comes just days after Norfolk County Council's cabinet scrapped controversial plans to slash �58,000 from the budget for road crossing patrols, deeming the safety of young children a 'priority'.

Council officials have now confirmed that although no lollipop men and women will be cut, any who leave or have left in recent months will not be replaced.

The recruitment freeze, which has been implemented across the council in a bid to plug a �155m gap in funding, will see Firside Junior School in Middletons Lane, Hellesdon, without a road crossing patrol for the foreseeable future.

Lollipop lady Christine Bunn gave up the job after six years at the end of last term due to ill health.

Other schools affected include Avenue Junior School in Avenue Road, near Unthank Road, Norwich, Browick Road Infant School in Wymondham and Brundall Primary School.

Peter Balcombe, Broadland district councillor for Hellesdon, said: 'It's a cop-out. There's no kind of consistency at all in a system which relies on existing lollipop staff not leaving – it's ridiculous.'

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The county council's plans to cut its spending on road crossing patrols would have shaved �116,000 off the �400,000 road crossing patrols budget. The controversial proposals were thrown out at Monday's cabinet following the 'Big Conversation' consultation.

Parents and staff at Firside Junior School have now issued a rallying cry for their lollipop lady to be replaced.

Simon Fisher, headteacher, said: 'Middletons Lane is a very busy and dangerous road. We have worked very hard to encourage people to walk to school, but this has knocked us out of the water. Parents are not confident in having their children walk to school and it's caused greater congestion in the area as parents want to drop them off.'

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services, said: 'We appreciate the concerns of those at Firside and believe that the volume of traffic and number of pupils at the school mean that the site meets the threshold for a new crossing patrol. However, this is not the only patrol in the county that currently has a vacancy.

'As soon as the budget is set and agreed, and we know what funding will be available for the coming year, we will assess all of these vacancies to see what posts can and should be filled.'

Has your school lost its lollipop lady or man? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk