Delight as 3-year lollipop guide wait over

Pupils Ailsa Sinclair, Samuel Webster, Fin Templeton and Isaac Wood with lollipop lady Irene Courtney. Picture: Neil Hanna
Pupils Ailsa Sinclair, Samuel Webster, Fin Templeton and Isaac Wood with lollipop lady Irene Courtney. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A SCHOOL is celebrating after being told it will finally get a new lollipop crossing guide – after a three-year wait.

The position at Parsons Green Primary, one of three at the school, was repeatedly advertised but had been unfilled since the previous guide retired after a 20-year stint.

A second of the Meadowfield school’s lollipop people left before Christmas leading to renewed worry from parents.

But the city council has now announced that both jobs have been filled, subject to vetting, and put the long wait down to some positions being more difficult to fill than others.

Across the city, there are actually only a few vacancies, with 173 of 176 lollipop positions currently filled. Council bosses said unpopular, split-shift hours meant it was not unheard of for recruitment in certain areas of the city to take months and even years.

Parsons Green mum Leslie Dible, 44, said: “We were concerned – some of the cars around there drive really fast. I kept assuming that somebody new would be brought in and I couldn’t understand why it was taking so long.

“But this is brilliant – it will enable my eight-year-old boy to walk to school safely and on his own.”

The new guides will take up positions on Paisley Drive and the crossroads at Ulster Crescent after the summer holiday.

Ms Dible said parents had been particularly concerned as there were no traffic lights in the mainly residential streets close to the school, although speed bumps had been installed.

She said: “I think there was even confusion about why the posts hadn’t been filled and people thought that maybe there wasn’t the funding to replace our previous lollipop lady, who was there for over 20 years.

“Maybe the council needs to look at its recruiting strategy.”

A spokeswoman for Parsons Green parent council said: “Parsy Parent Council are delighted to hear that they are now to get the badly-needed crossing patrol officers after the summer holidays.

“The safety of our children getting to school has been a huge concern over the school year.”

The Evening News has previously told how teachers and staff at Stewart’s Melville College had been taking on the role of lollipop guides because it had been so difficult to recruit people for the job which pays around £7 an hour.

And in January we revealed parents had started a petition to replace the crossing guide on Sleigh Drive/Lochend Road after the position went unfilled for several months.

A council spokeswoman said: “We actively look to recruit school crossing guides but it can be very difficult to fill these positions.

“We would encourage anyone who is interested in 
applying to contact us.”