A NEW crossing was approved for a suburban primary school - but an upset lollipop lady said she was not told she was to be replaced.
Ann Allport, who has been shepherding children and parents across busy Newton Lane to Newton Primary School, said she was “deeply hurt and upset that after 20 years' service no one had the decency to officially inform me of the proposed puffin crossing”.
The crossing was put forward on Newton Lane near the junction with Kingsway West in connection with an extension to Newton Primary School.
The school is being enlarged following the closure of Woodfield Primary this September.
Planning permission to extend the Newton school included a condition that a pedestrian crossing should be provided.
City highway chiefs were told at a Town Hall meeting that five objections and a petition with 143 signatures had been received objecting to the crossing.
People said they were concerned about the loss of the school crossing patrol as they felt a manned crossing was safer than an unmanned crossing with signals.
Ann, who understood at the time she was to be offered a position at Brook Lane, said: “I do want to keep serving the community where I am, it is not just the job of crossing the children over safely but I feel it is a bigger picture than that.
“I am not only part of the community which I have very happily served for 20 years but also I have got to know all the children, their parents and their families.
“What makes my job so special is that I have watched as children grow from being very shy when they first start as reception children to developing more in confidence and seeing their little faces light up when they see me.”
This made her job worthwhile and she believed this would not happen when they saw the puffin crossing.
“I feel not only do I do a very good job of safely crossing the children over the road but I feel they have learnt a lot about road safety which is an important factor of the job,” she added.
“The parents learnt of the proposals to create a puffin crossing and the feedback from them is that they do not want me to be replaced by a mechanical crossing as they do not feel this would be a safe solution for their children getting across the road to school.”
Ann said she and the parents felt creating a puffin was “unnecessary” and they hoped the county council would reconsider.
Writing in to object, a parent believed proper consideration had not been given to the situation and “the possibility of one child being hurt is not worth the risk of removing our crossing officer who has a 100% safety rate”.
The crossing would be “ridiculously close” to the junction with Kingsway and the parent claimed traffic on roads in the area had increased “dramatically”.
Another said she always felt safe crossing when Ann was there and added: “Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the various unmanned crossings around Chester.
“On more than one occasion, my family have almost been run down by drivers who refuse to acknowledge zebra crossings, Puffin crossings or even those controlled by traffic lights.”
She described Ann as an “excellent lollipop lady” and hoped she could carry on for years to come.
A regular pedestrian and cyclist who used crossings frequently argued too many motorists regarded a red light crossing as a challenge rather than an order to stop.
A Year 6 road safety officer at Newton primary was worried that people would not stop for children waiting on the side of the road trying to get to the other side.
Area highways manager for Chester, Colin Stredder, said a puffin crossing was considered to be the most appropriate type as it would meet the need for a crossing at school times as well as providing a controlled crossing for residents to use at other times.
It would also resolve the issue of a vacant crossing patrol on Brook Lane as with the agreement of Newton Lane patrol she would be relocated there where children at present crossed at an unmanned zebra crossing.
He suggested the crossing would encourage safe pedestrian access to Newton primary and said it was one of three initiatives to promote non vehicular travel to the school.
Recommending the crossing should be installed, Mr Stredder said that at a meeting for parents and residents in January no concerns were raised about the proposal to provide the Puffin.
“The objections have mainly related to the loss of the patrol,” area traffic engineer Mr David Thomas told city and county councillors.
Hoole & Newton County Cllr Molly Hale (Lib Dem) commented: “I was concerned people thought it would decrease the safety of the children. On the whole, the puffin will be a benefit.”
The committee agreed the crossing should be installed after Kelsall City Cllr Hugo Deynem (Con) had said: “It is at least unfortunate if the patrol had not been informed.”