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Sussex pupils at risk in crossing crisis due to lack of lollipop men and women
Hundreds of school children have been left to cross roads by themselves because of a shortage of people willing to be lollipop ladies.
The recruitment problem is so severe one council has been unable to fill a fifth of its designated safety patrols.
A lollipop lady told The Argus that the “demeaning uniform” was one reason job hunters didn’t take up the role and warned they feared for children’s safety without supervised patrols.
West Sussex County Council said that 25 of their 130 “school crossing patrol officer” posts were currently unfulfilled including at junctions in Worthing, Ferring and Haywards Heath.
Brighton and Hove City Council said two of its 21 roles were unfilled while East Sussex County Council had four vacancies near Ringmer CP School, Chyngton School in Seaford, Glenleigh Park Primary Academy in Sidley and Battle and Langton Church of England Primary School.
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Lollipop men and women working for West Sussex earn an hourly wage of £6.84 rising to £7.19 while staff in East Sussex receive a pro rata wage of about £13,000 for two shifts each day totalling more than an hour.
Helen Reynolds, who patrols between Miller Road and Highcroft Villas in Brighton, said the short hours were likely to put people off. She added: “I don’t think a lot of people want to dress up in the yellow uniform, a lot of people think the outfit is demeaning.
“I wouldn’t dream of taking a day off sick. There are children whose parents probably think are responsible enough to walk to school on their own but I would be really fearful for them crossing the road without me.
“The job is so rewarding, for all the difficult hours, uniform and wet weather, it’s an absolutely fantastic job.”
An East Sussex County Council spokeswoman said: “We do everything possible to ensure crossing patrol sites are not left unmanned when a vacancy arises.
“We have a bank of relief patrols who can cover for short periods and our crossing patrol supervisors are fully trained and can step in where possible.”
A West Sussex spokesman said: “Where we have vacant sites they do generally stay unmanned until someone has been found to fill the position permanently, however some schools do offer their teaching assistants or office staff to fill in or appeal for volunteers but this does not happen often.
“It is still the responsibility of the parents to ensure their children get to school safely even when a patrol is there, therefore in the absence of a patrol this responsibility remains the same.”
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