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Lack of lolly

School crossing patrolers – or lollipop people – may become something of a rare sight in the wake of local government spending cuts. One in four of the sixty local authorities contacted in a survey by the Times Educational Supplement revealed that it is planning to scale back on their number.

Richard Hall of Road Safety GB thinks that keeping the lollipop folk makes sense: 'The government says it wants to encourage children to walk to school in order to lessen congestion and childhood obesity. But many parents who wish to encourage their children to be independent and walk to school, and who may previously have felt comfortable with this knowing that the school crossing guard was present to help them across a busy road, will now feel they have to drive them there,' he said.

As luck would have it, a 'lollipop army' has assembled to to protest against cuts affecting school crossing patrols. Petitions, marches, sit-down protests, Facebook campaigns and lobbying of Mps are the likely tools of their crusade. Helen Toft, a mum from Dorset, has launched a website and Facebook group Save our Lollipop People. There's also an e-petition: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/3221.

She said: 'In many areas councils are suggesting that the service should be run by volunteers, that town or parish councils should pick up the bill or that schools could fund-raise to keep their lollipop person. But I don't think that these are practical solutions. It wouldn't be easy to find volunteers willing to turn out in all weathers at such unsocial hours. And schools are under such pressure to raise funds for their own facilities, it's unlikely that they'd be able to contribute towards a crossing patrol, except in the wealthiest areas.'

'The sort of people who are protesting aren't the type who'd normally go on marches or hold sit-down campaigns,' Helen continued. 'They're ordinary people who feel very strongly that children's safety shouldn't be compromised and that lollipop people are a vital part of our community.'

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