Lollipop Recruitment Drive Is a Success

Article excerpt

Lollipop men and women have returned to school crossings across the country after a recruitment drive filled vacancies left empty for years.

Some councils now have fewer than five per cent of patrols vacant, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

In 2005, several areas had about half of their lollipop positions empty, and the average shortage in England and Wales was 17.5 per cent, a survey by Jet found.

The LGA called the turnaround a "triumph" and credited councils with taking steps to recruit before the autumn term begins.

There are school crossing patrol officers in at least 95 per cent of sites in Norfolk, Sand-well, Thurrock, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

In Sandwell, West Midlands, there are now four vacancies in 99 patrol areas, compared with a high of 26 vacancies in 2002.

Councillor Mahboob Hus-sain, Shadwell's cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said the council had taken a number of steps to boost recruitment.

Pay was increased to pounds 6.05 per hour, the retirement age was raised from 65 to 75, and they persuaded the local media to take the message to the community, he explained.

Mr Hussain said lollipop men and women played an important role in the neighbourhood.

He said: "They build a relationship, and build trust. If parents know there are people on patrol, they feel more comfortable sending their children by themselves.

"Patrols give extra comfort, even if there is a crossing there, to know they are safe."

In Stockport, a "wall of shame", featuring all the unused lollipops, helped slash vacancies from 29 to 10 out of 102 in just three months.

Essex, Luton and Peterborough councils have also reported staffing levels of at least 84 per cent. …