One of the crossing guards at Queen Street, serving King’s Park School, is to be removed.
Expressing his concern at the move DUP Councillor Phil Moutray said: “The decision of the Education Authority to remove one of the lollipop men at the Queen’s Street crossing is totally unacceptable.
“This assistance when crossing the busy road is vital to ensuring the safety of our children, and one person could simply not control young kids crossing all four lanes of traffic.
“At peak times Queen Street is bunged with vehicles and removing one of the lollipop men will see youngsters as young as three or four put in grave danger as they walk to and from primary school.
“Having spoken with the principal of King’s Park Primary, Mr Shields, we believe it is essential that this decision is reversed and that both lollipop persons are retained.
“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Education Authority in this regard and will make them aware of the concerns of the residents, parents and the school. Cost-cutting cannot come at cost to children’s safety. That is paramount.
“I want to commend the ongoing work of the lollipop men and women at Queen Street, Avenue Road and indeed, right across Lurgan. Their value in our community often goes unrecognised, yet the job they do is essential in ensuring the wellbeing of children travelling to and from school.”
Cllr Colin McCusker also called for the decision to be reversed: “I want to register my opposition to this decision, and call on the Education Authority to reverse it immediately.
“King’s Park School has a very unique location, and is close to a very complicated junction at Queen Street and Queen’s Place. Not only is this junction complicated, it is also very busy, all day long, with traffic ranging from cars to heavy articulated lorries.
“As a parent of two primary school children myself, I can only imagine the stress this decision is having on parents who have children at King’s Park.
“This school is situated on a main arterial route into Lurgan, and the safety of the children must be paramount.
A school spokesman said: “The Governors, parents and staff at King’s Park Primary and Nursery School are extremely concerned at the possible consequences of the Education Authority’s decision to withdraw a patrol person from the Queen Street crossing, which services children going to and from our school each day.
“The crossing in question is located on the very busy four lane main arterial route in and out of Lurgan and it also has a two lane side road entering the junction.
“The Governors have written to the EA over recent days asking that they review and reconsider the decision contained in their letter of January 14 and we await the outcome of that review in the hope that the decision will be reversed.”
An Education Authority spokesperson said: “The primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of children on their journeys to and from school rests with parents.
“All School Crossing Patrols are provided on a discretionary basis and are dependent on an assessment of the location in accordance with national guidelines which recommend that where a lights controlled crossing is available, there is normally no requirement to provide a School Crossing Patrol.
“Following the recent retirement of one of two patrols who operate at Queens Place, the Authority conducted a further review. This review concluded the lights controlled crossing is a suitable crossing point which does not require the provision of two School Crossing Patrols to operate safely. It will continue to operate with one School Crossing Patrol. The Education Authority urge all parents to continue to exercise great caution to ensure the safety of children on their journeys to and from school.”