Parents’ fears over loss of lollipop man

Emma Forbes with her son Charlie at the school crossing outside Sidmouth primary school. Ref shs 514

Emma Forbes with her son Charlie at the school crossing outside Sidmouth primary school. Ref shs 5142-37-14TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Concerned parents fear their children’s safety is being put at risk as the new term has started without a lollipop man outside Sidmouth Primary School.

The school caretaker is currently having to help pupils across busy Woolbrook Road in the mornings - but in the afternoon the role remains vacant.

And after six weeks, mum Emma Forbes says the situation is not good enough.

She is now unwilling to let her nine-year-old son, Charlie, walk alone, warning: “It is an accident waiting to happen.

“Having witnessed the volume of traffic, I’m glad I was there to pick up my son,” said the care worker, who lives in School Street.

“You have to wait for drivers to let you across the road – if I wasn’t there, would my son have been safe?

“Devon County Council (DCC) had seven weeks to fill the post – as a parent, I don’t think that’s satisfactory.”

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Bill Valentine had worked as the lollipop man on the ‘dangerous’ road for 15 years before he retired at the end of last term.

A letter from headteacher Paul Walker informed parents that DCC will be advertising the post ‘in the near future’. It recommends children use the zebra crossing by Lidl.

PSCO Phil Thomas said he visits the crossing whenever he can but his powers do not extend to stopping traffic. He added that his role is to calm traffic and offer reassurances.

“I’ve not seen any near misses but there is always the potential for an incident,” added PSCO Thomas.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, DCC cabinet member for highways, said: “Woolbrook Road is a busy location, has large numbers of children and traffic, and we are actively seeking to recruit a patrol to cover it.

“We currently have a relief patrol covering mornings only, but we would hope someone from the community comes forward to help us provide full-time cover as soon as possible.”