DCSIMG

Safety fears as Sunderland suffers shortage of lollipop people

School crossing

School crossing

CHILDREN’S lives are at risk due to a city-wide shortage of lollipop men and women, parents warned today.

Council bosses have urged for extra care to be taken when picking up and dropping off pupils at Sunderland’s schools until the shortage is solved.

Teachers are hoping police community support officers and volunteers might be able to lend a helping hand to make the daily school run safer.

There are currently seven vacancies for crossing patrol guards outside schools across the city.

But while efforts are under way to fill at least three of these jobs, Sunderland City Council admits many posts remain empty due to lack of interest.

Grindon Hall Christian School in Pennywell has been missing a crossing patrol guard since March, and parents say the situation is getting dangerous.

Adam Burns, who has two children at the school, said he was more than aware of the problems.

He said: “It’s becoming a real issue now. I’m surprised someone hasn’t been run over.

“I went to drop the kids off the other day and we couldn’t get across the road.

“If you try to go into the school, up the driveway, you get wrong.

“Between 8.20am and 8.30am, is particularly bad just because it’s so busy then, there’s parked cars on both sides of the road.”

Peter Lawson, head of the primary section of the school, today urged people to come forward to take up the post in a bid to improve the situation.

He added: “In the meantime, we would ask people driving along Pennywell Road to be extra vigilant and alert.

“We are also trying to encourage the community police officers to have an occasional presence in the area.”

Mr Lawson admitted that even if a suitable candidate for the job was found, the crossing guard was unlikely to be in post before September.

The school has also investigated the possibility of getting a zebra or pelican crossing located at the site.

The Echo understands 11 possible applicants were given interviews for crossing patrol posts across the city during the first week of April, but only three candidates bothered to turn up.

Since then council bosses have worked hard to fill positions, with more interviews due in the coming weeks.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The council looks to continually recruit for school crossing patrols.

“We currently have seven vacancies and three candidates are now in the process of being appointed.

“Unfortunately, there are no applicants living near enough to cover the position at Grindon Hall and getting enough applicants at the sites we need filling is an ongoing problem.

“However, we are in discussions with the school regarding the use of existing school staff or parent/carer volunteers.

“We are urging parents and carers to exercise additional care when dropping off and collecting children from school.

“And, as with other school crossing patrol sites, we are looking to see if there are other measures we can take which will improve safety when the patrol is not present.”

According to online jobs adverts for the Sunderland posts, a city crossing guard can be paid about £237 per month for 10 hours work each week.

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