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Loss of Westmeads School lollipop lady will 'put children's lives at risk'

Parents and teachers are concerned a council decision to no longer fund a lollipop lady will “put children’s lives at risk”.

For more than 20 years, Laetitia Scott has served as Westmead Community Infant School’s much-loved crossing supervisor - ensuring the school’s 180 pupils make it across Cromwell Road safely.

But now Mrs Scott has stepped down from the role, Kent County Council has announced it will not be funding her replacement. School staff and parents argue that a lollipop lady is necessary on Cromwell Road - a popular route for drivers keen to bypass Whitstable High Street.

Pupils at Westmeads said goodbye to Mrs Scott on Friday. Picture: Westmeads School (4650150)
Pupils at Westmeads said goodbye to Mrs Scott on Friday. Picture: Westmeads School (4650150)

Head teacher Helen Lambirth said: “We’ve got very young children who don’t have great understanding of road safety, although we of course teach it at the school. And there are younger siblings who come to school with parents.

“They’re so used to having a crossing supervisor there, and it’s a really busy road.

“Mrs Scott is amazing. She would welcome the children in, and knows all their names - seeing her is the start of their day.

Pupils at Westmeads said goodbye to Mrs Scott on Friday. Picture: Westmeads School (4650187)
Pupils at Westmeads said goodbye to Mrs Scott on Friday. Picture: Westmeads School (4650187)

“It’s a massive loss for us. I’m very unhappy that potentially they’re putting children’s lives at risk.”

Many parents share Ms Lambirth’s concerns.

Amie O’Connor Poole, whose five-year-old daughter attends Westmeads, said: “I am incredibly shocked to hear there will no longer be funding for someone to help families safely cross here, given that it’s such a busy spot and there are no pedestrian crossings.

Families crossing Cromwell Road, outside Westmeads Community Infant school
Families crossing Cromwell Road, outside Westmeads Community Infant school

“How can KCC justify cost-cutting like this when it potentially risks children’s lives?”

KCC says pedestrian and vehicle figures are far below those required by national guidelines.

“We were therefore unable to authorise funding for a school crossing patrol at Westmeads,” said KCC safer mobility team leader Katie Ireland. “We have explained to the school that they are able to fund the post from other sources or use volunteers and we will support them in this with providing appropriate training/monitoring and the required authority to stop traffic.”

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