A POPULAR lollipop man and great-grandfather described as a ‘role model’ faces losing his job in more cuts – prompting a campaign to keep schoolchildren safe on one of Coventry’s busiest roads.
Gosford Park residents’ battle follows half of school crossing patrols being lost from cuts across the city in the last year, the Observer has learned.
They are signing a petition calling on council funding – of up to £5,000 – to ensure Neville Goode does not reach the end of the road with his much-valued job at Humber Road, Stoke, Coventry.
They say the busy rat-run, which effectively links the A444 north-south route across the city, has already seen serious accidents, while crossing it is the only option for children at nearby Gosford Park Primary School, and some attending Blue Coat school.
Coventry City Council insists unprecedented government funding cuts to local authorities meant it had to last year cut by half the £5,000 subsidy it provided for 82 school sites for crossing patrols.
The rest of the funding is set to be fully removed next year, and all but £200 of the council subsidy is being removed this year.
Half of the schools, faced with their own squeezed budgets, have decided they could not afford to fund the lollipop service themselves – and 41 sites no longer have one, according to council figures. More could follow.
Three months’ notice has been given for Mr Goode’s role
Mr Goode, who has multiple great-grandchildren and more than 20 grandchildren, is a respected ‘role model’ for the kids, says Humber Road post office manager Jenny Dosanjh.
Mr Goode, who worked in site maintenance at the nearby former Peugeot factory for 35 years and lives in Stoke Aldermoor, said: “It would be a shame if anything happened here.
“This road is a main link between London Road and the Ricoh Arena and it’s very busy.
“I shall find something to do. My daughter manages a care home up the road and could do with a handyman. But my concern would be for the children.”
Ms Dosanjh said: “One customer was knocked down in November and suffered a brain injury, and we had another crash recently.
“I’m sure it’s not only Neville we need but other measures including a crossing and signs.
“But we live in a faceless society. It’s important to have people around, and it’s good if children can see a positive male role model like Neville. For some, he’s the only one they see.
“He helps the elderly cross the road as well as children. He helps everybody morning and afternoon.”
“We’ve got a dangerous situation and I don’t want it on my conscience if someone gets killed.”
The petition calls for continued funding for Mr Goode, or reinstating 30mph road signs and converting traffic lights nearby at the Bolingbroke Road junction to a pelican crossing.
Councillor Jayne Innes, the council’s cabinet member for public services, said the council faced £94million annual budget cuts by central government while schools were less effected by ‘austerity’.
She said providing all 87 primary schools citywide would cost £435,000.
She said council officers would conduct an safety audit assessment of Humber Road – as when any school crossing patrol is removed – to see if further safety measures will be needed, such as crossings, signs and lines.
She said all affected lollipop men and women are offered council redeployment where possible to suitable alternative roles.
She added the council provides training to schools if they want to retain their lollipop men and women.