EAST Belfast Alliance Councillor and Alliance Education Spokesperson Naomi Long is writing to the Government, calling on it to pro-actively tackle the personnel crisis for school crossing patrols in Northern Ireland.
Alliance is calling for a new task force involving Government departments and Education Boards that could look into how the level of vacancies for ‘lollipop’ men and women can be reduced.
Cllr Long has received a letter from the Government Ministers for Education and the Environment stating that they have no responsibility for school crossing patrol staff, and that the education boards employing staff have no control of their terms, conditions and pay, as they are determined on a UK-wide basis.
Cllr Long said: “It appears that the vacancies crisis affecting school crossing patrols is being ignored by the Government. No department is prepared to take responsibility, and education boards are powerless to improve pay and conditions.
“Alliance is now demanding that the Government gets to grips with this problem, which will not resolve itself and has been raised by many of my constituents in East Belfast.
“A task force of all interested parties should be set up to find measures to reduce the number of vacancies. If Northern Ireland has a particularly bad problem, perhaps it is time that pay and conditions were set to meet the local situation. Alliance would also favour increased opportunities for job sharing, to increase flexibility and encourage more applicants.
“I want to see action being taken now. The lives of our children travelling to and from school are too important to be ignored. Taking speedy action is essential, as we approach another school year with nothing having been done.”
There are currently over 70 vacancies in Northern Ireland. More than half have been vacant for over a year. Figures released earlier this year revealed that eight out of 26 posts in the BELB area of East Belfast were vacant.