07 October 2005

Parents fight loss of lollipop man

Belfast Telegraph

By Kathryn Torney
07 October 2005

Parents of pupils at a Belfast primary school have launched a hard-hitting campaign aimed at shaming education board bosses into reversing a decision to axe their school lollipop man.

Mums and dads took action after the principal of Brooklands Primary in Dundonald was told yesterday that the South Eastern Education and Library Board has decided not to replace crossing patrol man George McBride when he retires today.

The board said that the school does not meet criteria relating to the number of unaccompanied children crossing the road and the volume of traffic.

However, parents, who have accused the Board of making an easy cutback in a bid to save money, have started a petition and plan to hold peaceful protests outside the school in a bid to have the decision overturned. They also plan to man the crossing themselves from Monday.

Over 600 children attend the primary, nursery unit and library.

Principal David McCartney said: "What I can't understand is why there was a need for a crossing patrol yesterday but no need now.

"The bottom line is that every child crossing the road into school from Monday will be in danger.

"It may take someone to have an accident for something to happen but by then it will be too late. I am very angry about this decision."

Mum of two, Joanne Patton, said: "Who is going to answer to some parent when their child is lying lifeless on the road? It is just an accident waiting to happen."

The board's assistant senior education officer, Nicky McBride, said they have agreed to carry out another survey as a result of the school's concerns.

"If the school does not meet the criteria, we have agreed to work with them to find an alternative solution, which could involve 'walking buses' or a safe drop-off point for cars."

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