Uncertainty over whether lollipop people will have jobs when children return to school in Calderdale

Children in Calderdale are set to return to work next weekChildren in Calderdale are set to return to work next week
Children in Calderdale are set to return to work next week
Crossing patrol staff in Calderdale do not know whether they still have a job when schools return next week, councillors heard.

At the first meeting of the full Calderdale Council since lockdown, held in virtual form, Coun Sue Holdsworth raised the issue about the familiar figures who staff school crossing patrols.

“I have had concerns from parents at Greetland Academy about the status of the lollipop people. They want to know is it true that the council is removing all funding from lollipop people? We have also had social media reports from lollipop personnel who say they don’t know if they have a job to go back to,” she said.

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Coun Holdsworth (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said the council were very keen to have children walking to school and she was concerned crossing patrols might not be there to see them safely across potentially dangerous roads.

Similar reports have been received from other areas, councillors heard.

Cabinet members were not totally certain under whose directorate the issue fell, but portfolio holder for Children and Young People’s Services, Coun Adam Wilkinson said his understanding was the positions were traditionally funded by schools and he understood legislation had been passed that meant they could no longer do this.

“In short, there are difficulties facing the service,” he said.

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The council itself did not have a lot of extra money in its budget and operational issues had also been raised by the COVID-19 pandemic with schools having staggered starts and finishes, which would mean crossing staff having to be employed for longer at extra cost.

Some crossing staff were also shielding during the pandemic and would be at greater risk as they would come into contact with a lot more people, he said.

“My understanding is the staff won’t be going back next week but will still be paid,” said Coun Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge).

A report on a range of issues arising from the pandemic would be considered by Cabinet next Monday, September 7, he said.

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Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town) said the council itself had not paid for school crossing patrols for a long time.

These had been funded by the Calderdale Schools Forum up until now but the forum was financially unable to do it this time, she said.

Schools with academy status had to pay crossing staff’s salaries, unless the position had changed in the last few months, said Coun Swift.

Coun Silvia Dacre (Lab, Todmorden), Cabinet member for Resources, said staff who had been left in the dark should contact their school’s manager and, if they were a member, their union rep.

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Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said the issue was concerning.

"It is quite a vital service" he said. "They are there to see children across the road which is quite dangerous in places. Unsupervised children running across the road isn’t safe.

“Can we look at people volunteering if finances are the reason why we are losing the service, so we can put them through checks and training they need? That’s a suggestion."


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