There are now just under half the number of lollipop men and women across Birmingham compared to seven years ago.
According to a Freedom of Information request to Birmingham City Council, since 2010 the number of crossing patrol wardens has decreased from 351 to 186 in 2017.
The 47% decrease brings job losses for wardens employed by the council, in addition to the increased danger for children walking to and from school. “[At] this school, the parents are very interested in their children, so they make a big fuss when there’s any mention of getting rid of the lollipop men,” said Graham Lawrence, a lollipop man at Kings Heath Primary School, “[At] some schools, the parents just aren’t interested.”
Alternative road safety measures have been introduced such as pedestrian controlled lights, 20mph speed limits and speed bumps. The National Travel Survey 2017 found that 42% of children aged 5-16 in England walk to school. While these alternative measures could aid the children in walking to school, they may not be as reliable as a human stopping the traffic; potentially endangering 42% of the country’s children.
Crossing points across the city are assessed according to national guidelines issued by Road Safety GB and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. This means only some schools are manned by crossing patrol wardens who aid the children in crossing the road safely. Birmingham City Council’s current policy is to fund wardens on the “highest risk” sites, leaving other areas in danger.
“Obviously the role of the parent is vital – they’re the main role models for children,” said Charli Brunning, Corporate Fundraising Officer for Brake, “I think it’s imperative that road safety messages are enforced at home.”
“Some parents just don’t take any interest, it’s their responsibility to teach [their children] how to cross the road and they just don’t bother,” said Mr Lawrence.