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'Pupils at risk' as council prepares to axe school crossing patrol

Marchwood Junior School said the issue was "still under discussion" with Hampshire County Council
Marchwood Junior School said the issue was "still under discussion" with Hampshire County Council

MARCHWOOD Junior School pupils will be put at risk when a crossing patrol officer retires after the county council confirmed it would not fund a replacement, parents fear.

Youngsters heading to and from class will soon be without help as they cross Main Road in the village, with one worried local resident declaring it was “an accident waiting to happen”.

Cllr David Harrison, county councillor for Totton South and Marchwood, said on his Facebook page said: “It is yet another example of cuts being made by Hampshire County Council.

"I strongly believe that the lollipop person performs a really important role, protecting children and parents where it will be dangerous to cross the road without them.

“Hampshire County Council has suggested that the post could be retained if Marchwood Junior School is prepared to fund it. I haven’t yet spoken to the headteacher, but I already know enough about the state of school budgets – following years of cutbacks – to know this is unlikely to happen.”

The crossing point used by Marchwood Junior School pupils over Main Road
The crossing point used by Marchwood Junior School pupils over Main Road

Commenting on Cllr Harrison’s Facebook post, one person wrote: “I’m a grandma who does the school run at Marchwood. Members of the council need to visit this particular crossing.

"The whole Main Road in Marchwood is like a slalom, with parked cars and lorries weaving in and out. The crossing lady looks after a T-junction and it is unbelievable that she might not be replaced.”

Another said: “It is horrendous along that road at school kick-out. Not only is it beyond busy, but the attitude of drivers can be awful with little or no patience shown for pedestrians. Not having a lollipop person would be an accident waiting to happen.”

The council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy, transport and environment, Cllr Rob Humby, said: “When a school crossing patrol officer resigns or retires, we always review the post to make sure that it still meets the criteria set by national guidelines and local policy.

“For some time, our policy has been to provide a school crossing patrol officer at infant, junior or primary schools that meet this criteria.

"However, a survey carried out earlier this month confirmed that the threshold for the number of primary aged children crossing the road daily is not being met. Consequently, the crossing patrol officer will not be replaced.”

He added: “Hampshire County Council spends more than £1m a year on school crossing patrols. With new schools opening and others expanding, we need to ensure that we provide the school crossing patrol service on a fair and equitable basis across Hampshire.

“Our road safety team offers a range of free education programmes for all schools to help children and young people use the roads safely every day, not just school days, and I hope Marchwood Junior School are able to take advantage of this service.

“Many schools invite the support of parents, as well as the wider school community, to become trained volunteers to deliver Streets Ahead pedestrian training to Year 2 students.”

A spokesperson for Marchwood Junior School told the A&T: “I can confirm that this matter is still under discussion with Hampshire County Council and therefore at this stage am unable to comment further regarding this.”

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