Report by Karen Richards
Friday, June 8, 2012
LOLLIPOP people might not become a thing of the past following a review of school crossing patrols in the district.
North Somerset Council has just finished an assessment of whether existing sites still meet the criteria for crossing patrols and has looked at other long-term options for road safety outside schools.
A report will now go before a council scrutiny panel for a final decision on which of the area’s 41 patrols will be kept.
Meanwhile a ‘lollicam’ scheme which has been trialled outside Wraxall Primary School since November is considered a success and could be rolled out to other crossing patrols.
Cameras are attached to both sides of the crossing guards’ lollipops, at a cost of £1,500, to catch drivers who do not stop when asked.
The device records footage onto a storage card, which is checked each day, with letters sent to offending motorists. The information could also be passed on to police for possible prosecution proceedings.
A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “It has been a worthwhile experiment because the whole idea behind using the lollicam was to influence drivers’ behaviour on their approach to the school crossing.
“We haven’t prosecuted anyone but driver behaviour has improved.
“The prominent signs we have put up have also helped publicise that this innovative bit of kit is in use.”
Two preschools have recently had lessons in the important role of lollipop patrols as part of a child safety on the roads campaign by Avon and Somerset police.
Children from St Francis Preschool, in Nailsea, had a visit from PCSO Charlotte Thompson who taught them how to use a crossing patrol safely.
And popular lollipop man Pete Eaton, who has been doing the job for more than a decade, showed children at Meadowside Preschool, in Backwell, how to cross the road outside West Leigh Infant School which shares a site with the preschool.
Early years practitioner Sharon Bratley said: “The children did lots of practising crossing the playground, with some of them choosing to be the cars who had to drive carefully and stop when they saw Mr Eaton with his lollipop.”
North Somerset Council currently pays £1,640 a year for each crossing patrol, which operates for about six hours a week.
Of the existing patrols, 20 have guards and 21 do not have a lollipop person in position and while the review has been carried out there has been a ban on recruitment.