Concerns at drop in number of lollipop men and women

The falling number of crossing guides in the Capital has sparked calls against road safety. Picture; John Birchall.
The falling number of crossing guides in the Capital has sparked calls against road safety. Picture; John Birchall.
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THEY are a staple of the morning school run, safely ushering children across busy roads to start the school day.

But now it appears the role of lollipop men and women could be under threat after new figures revealed the number of school crossing guides in the Capital has fallen by almost a quarter over the last ten 

City of Edinburgh council currently employs 150 crossing guides across the city, down from 197 in 2007 – a reduction of 24 per cent.

Council officials commissioned the first review into the role of crossing guides in September last year, hiring outside consultants WSP/Parker Brinkerhoff to produce the report at a cost of £62,000.

The figures have sparked calls against further cuts from road safety campaigners, however council bosses insist no further measures will be taken until after the findings of the report are published.

Proposals to cut 75 lunchtime lollipop guides were shelved in January 2016 following a backlash from parents.

Sandy Allan, road safety manager for RoSPA Scotland, said crossing guides “still do important jobs” and called for further road safety measures to be in place before guides are removed from certain roads.

He added: “School crossing patrols do an important and useful job in helping children cross busy roads safely on their way to and from school.”

“We recognise that local authorities have had to make cut-backs due to their reduced funding and that the School Crossing Patrol Service has had to carry some of these cuts.”

“However, patrols should only be removed if they are confident that the risk to children is fully mitigated by other means, such as light controlled crossing or effective speed management.”

Council officials said, despite the cuts, around twenty positions remain available for lollipop men and women across the city, with most becoming vacant through employees retiring.

Lollipop man Bill Donaldson, 71, said staffing was a concern, adding: “Of course when you say they’ve been cut by a quarter, that’s a big reduction for quite a small number of employees. Having said that, outside Flora Stevenson, where I usually stand, we’re quite well protected. There are four guards on the various junctions, but I understand elsewhere in the city, the roads maybe aren’t as well staffed.”

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener said road safety was a “key priority” for the authority and assured residents no further cuts were planned, adding: “Keeping people safe on our streets is one of the council’s key priorities and a raft of measures have been brought forward in recent years to make travel safer.”

“Travel patterns and habits have, of course, changed since 2009 and this review will provide us with a clearer picture of which locations will most benefit from having a school crossing patrol.

“No changes have or will be implemented by the council without public consultation, which will be required so the review can be fully informed.”