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Lollipops needed

ESSEX County Council has raised concerns that many school children have returned to school to find there is no lollipop patrols to help them cross the road.

Responding to requests from schools, parents and parish councils, the number of crossing sites for the county council to approve looks set to rise, but staff must still be found to man the danger spots.

At the end of the last school year more than 50 of the 250 patrol sites across Essex were still vacant, despite the county council's ongoing recruitment campaign and roadshows.

More recruits are desperately needed to fill the gap of remaining vacancies.

Cabinet member for strategic planning and transportation Ron Williams said: "Finding applicants for the school crossing patrol service is always extremely difficult. The hourly pay has been increased to £4.97, which will hopefully make the post more attractive to prospective recruits.

"However, we usually find people aren't so much interested in the pay as in the satisfaction of knowing they are making a significant contribution to the safety of the community by carrying out this vital public service."

The council's school crossing manager, Keith Welham, said: "The majority of our budget goes towards crossings for school children aged five to 11 years. We are happy for people to job share and we need relief patrols for when people are ill or on holiday."

For more information on how to apply to be a school crossing patrol, ring Keith Welham on 01245 437592, or Robert Eames on 01245 437340.

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