A North Down lollypop man has hit out at local politicians and education chiefs over lollypop patrol provisions in the South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) area.
The man, who did not wish to be named, contacted The CT after reading an article in our November 23 edition in which the headmaster of Sullivan Upper School in Holywood, John Stevenson, criticised a lack of “community spirit” for no one taking up the vacant lollypop position outside his school.
The North Down patrol man said a recent cut in hours didn't help the authorities in their efforts to fill the position.
“What I can't understand is why the school (Sullivan Upper) didn't get someone themselves, such as a parent, to cover the lollypop role,” he said. “However, it doesn't help matters when the SEELB recently cut the number of working hours for a lollypop man from 15 hours per week to 10 hours per week.”
The man said he works with three Bangor primary schools — Kilcooley, Clandeboye and St Malachy's — between the hours of 8.30am to 9.10am and 1.45pm and 3.20pm. He said he was annoyed at the role played by politicians when hours were being cut this year.
“What annoys me is that not one local politician came to our aid when our hours were being cut,” he said. “Some people are now losing between £80 and £120 a month through these cuts. In the end we are there to protect children as they come and go from school but a cut in these hours won't help.”
He added: “The reason these hours were cut across the board was to save money.
“Now it's got to the situation where kids are not getting shown across the road after 3.20pm. I cannot stay on to help with any children who are late out of school or at an after school club because I am not insured.”
Sullivan Upper headmaster Mr Stevenson said he agreed that the cuts were made for financial reasons.
“None of us want to compromise the safety of our children however I feel the reason for these cuts were money related,” he said.
A statement from the SEELB said the decision to make the cuts was because of an “overprovision of service”.
A statement to The CT said: “The board has undertaken a series of consultation meetings throughout the summer period with individual employees, trade unions and school principals regarding the school crossing patrol provision at locations throughout the board's area.
“The consensus of opinion at meetings was that in many cases there was an over provision of service and that school crossing patrols were not required for the length of time that they were contracted.
“Therefore, school crossing patrol hours at some locations were reduced to 10 hours per week effective from October 1, 2007.
“In reaching this decision the board determined that two hours per day at each location was a reasonable duration for the provision of supervision of pupils to and from schools at normal school opening and closing times.
“Exceptional circumstances pertaining to health and safety issues at specific locations were taken into consideration.”