Castlereagh Alliance Councillor Michael Long has expressed his relief at the announcement that the SEELB are to review their procedures on replacing crossing patrol staff and have agreed to retain temporary replacement staff at Braniel and Brooklands Primary Schools until a Board meeting to decide the matter scheduled for January. The decision was revealed to Cllr. Long at a Council meeting with the Board.
Cllr. Long said:
“I am pleased that the post at Braniel has been given a temporary reprieve until a review of procedures for replacing lollipop staff has been undertaken. In recent weeks I have been contacted by many parents of children in Braniel Primary who were told that the crossing patrol man who died in October would not be replaced and am pleased that the temporary replacement is to be kept on at present.
“However this is not enough and I would appeal for the Board to scrap the need to reassess the traffic at each site when a post becomes vacant. Surely if it is deemed necessary for a lollipop staff before someone retires it should be equally necessary afterwards.
“In addition I feel that if the Lower Braniel Road did not qualify then there is quite obviously something wrong with the criteria as it is a very busy stretch of road especially during the morning rush hour. The whole exercise smacks of cost cutting and I fear that it will put the lives of local children at risk.
“It is time that the crisis in crossing patrol staff, with multiple long term vacancies and the decision to cut hours or posts altogether, was addressed. For years Alliance has been calling for more money for this vital service and, in addition, we want the Government to set up a task force along with other agencies, including the Boards, to see what can be done to ensure that crossing patrols are provided at all locations where they are needed.”