SCHOOLCHILDREN are having to cross a dangerous road unsupervised because a re-deployed lollipop man has not replaced.
As previously reported by The Journal, Les Rogers was told he could no longer work at the busy crossing at Darras Hall First School, Ponteland, because of Northumberland County Council’s cost-cutting drive on car mileage allowances.
The authority also told the school it could not deploy a member of staff as a replacement as they would not be legally empowered to stop traffic.
Concerns over the lack of a safety crossing patrol were last night voiced by a parent who started a petition calling for Mr Rogers to be retained, as well as by the school’s headteacher and the lollipop man himself.
Mr Rogers patrolled at Darras Hall for more than seven years.
The pensioner drove 290 miles a week from his home at Stakeford, near Bedlington, for a twice-a-day stint outside the school, becoming a popular figure with pupils and parents alike over the years. The county council last year decided it wanted to save money on car mileage allowances and told Mr Rogers it would find him a spot nearer his home.
The lollipop man offered to take a one-third cut in his allowance, but the council refused.
The authority began advertising for a replacement last November but has not found anyone.
Parents up in arms at the prospect of their children crossing unsupervised launched a Save Our Lollipop Man petition.
Mr Rogers’ last day at the crossing was May 24 when children showered him with farewell gifts.
Since then school headteacher Peter Tincombe offered to deploy a teacher or his caretaker as a safety crossing patrol.
Since the half-term holiday, Mr Rogers has been re-deployed to a crossing at Bedlington.
But with the council still to find a replacement at Darras Hall, the crossing there has been unmanned. The petition, signed by 296 people, has now been handed to the county council by local councillor Peter Jackson.
Organiser Georgina Fogarty, whose daughter Philippa goes to the school, last night said she was still awaiting a response to the petition.
“At the moment it is just crossing the road with children and playing chicken with traffic. We are still no further forward.”
Mr Tincombe said he had been contacted by numerous parents worried by the lack of a safety crossing patrol.
“We have had promises that they are dealing with it originally but nothing (has happened).”
Mr Rogers added: “I was hoping they would have someone at Darras with it being a nursery and a first school. I was quite worried with there being no one there they could go straight on to the road.”
The council last night said it has yet to receive any suitable applicants for the Darras Hall post.
It confirmed prospective replacements from the school would not be legally able to stop traffic without the proper training, uniform or equipment.
Yet the authority insisted: “The council has offered the school training, uniform and equipment if they can provide someone who wishes to become a school crossing patrol.”
At the moment it is playing chicken with traffic. We are still no further forward