A SHORTAGE of lollipop men and women in South Lakeland has led to three school crossing patrol sites being axed due to a lack of interest.

The patrol at Burlington School, Kirkby-in-Furness, has been vacant for nearly five years while others have been vacant for three years, a meeting heard.

Broughton-in-Furness Church of England School has not a lollipop person since July 2015, according to the county council.

The one at Sir John Barrow School, Ulverston, has been vacant since January this year and Croftlands Infants School has had a vacancy since July 2018.

Heron Hill School, Kendal, has not had one since February 2015.

Council figures show that of 58 schools in South Lakeland, eight had a dedicated school crossing patrol, yet five were vacant.

An annual budget of £32,000 was put aside in 2018/19 to pay for the crossings to be staffed but the service only cost £11,756 due to vacancies.

South Lakeland local committee has now reduced the budget to £19,796 and instructed the service’s external provider, Orian, to advertise vacancies.

Cllr Stan Collins told the meeting: “Where we are looking at deleting school crossing patrols, we have to look at what the need is and how it might be met by other means.

“Clearly, if there is a need we should be meeting it some way or another. If we can’t find someone to do it, how are we going to do it,” asked the Liberal Democrat councillor for Kent Estuary.

“It was always difficult to recruit and we’ve got to think of other things that we might do to ensure the safety of children,” he said.

Councillors have had to resort to looking at alternative “technical” safety measures including flashing lights to warn motorists of school children.

Schools are being encouraged to develop a “walking bus” or “park and stride” schemes.

Cllr Roger Bingham told the meeting: “Lollipop ladies go back to the days when most pupils walked to school. Unfortunately now, they do not. As much as I would support school crossing patrols if we could get them, we have to recognise the biggest danger to children is the car.

“There is congestion around every village primary school with kids being dropped off. It’s very, very dangerous,” said the Conservative councillor for Lower Kentdale.

A report to the committee said parents remained responsible for ensuring their children’s safety.

“Some parents may believe the county council assumes responsibility for their children on their whole journey to and from school when it provides a school crossing patrol, a zebra or pelican crossing.”

“This is a misconception and the authority’s statutory position is clear. The responsibility for ensuring the safety of children travelling to and from school is, and must remain, a parental one.”