Council told traffic wardens should be seen as a priority

By Mary Dennehy

South Dublin County Council has been asked to see all schools as a priority when it comes to school traffic wardens and to recruit additional staff – or enhance road safety measures at school crossings.

In recent months, schools, parents and local councillors have raised concerns over the absence of school wardens at various locations – with some schools only getting a few hours’ notice that their lollipop person will not be present, as they have been pulled to cover a different location.

Lollipoplady June 2016

There are currently 94 school wardens employed by South Dublin County Council who are assigned to crossing points right across the county – and alongside keeping children safe make a positive contribution to communities.

While the council confirmed that the overall number has not changed from last year, it did tell The Echo that not all 94 wardens are always available for duty.

The council said: “In these instances every effort is made to provide cover at all school warden crossing points across the county having regard to crossing priorities and available resources.

“Unfortunately, when relief cover is not available, as happens from time to time, it becomes necessary to temporarily relocate existing school wardens to cover at priority crossings.

“In instances where cover cannot be provided, schools are notified immediately.

“These situations are monitored closely and immediately when cover becomes available, normal service resumes.”

However, while welcoming efforts made by the council to enhance road safety across the county, Fianna Fáil councillor for Tallaght Central, Charlie O’Connor said: “If we’re going to use wardens and schools are dependent on them, we need a standby roster to respond to illness or other events.

“Recently concerns have been raised over locations in Old Bawn, Seskin View and Fettercairn, which appear to be among the locations where lollipop ladies are being pulled to service other ‘priority’ locations.

“Every school crossing should be seen as a priority, no location should have its warden pulled to cover another crossing elsewhere in Tallaght or in the county.”

Tallaght South Sinn Féin councillor Dermot Richardson has also raised the issue with the council in recent months and he said: “This is really becoming a big issue for some schools, with one Tallaght school only getting two hours’ notice that its lollipop lady was not going to be present at home time.

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“If the council cannot supply dedicated and consistent lollipop ladies at a location, it needs to introduce traffic light and pedestrian crossings.

“We need to recruit more staff or else investigate other ways of making our roads safe for school children.”

The council told The Echo that its Road Safety Officer is currently carrying out counts for additional crossings throughout the county in response to new requests and additional schools.

A spokeswoman said: “A number of counts have been carried out at various locations countywide to assess if these areas warrant a new school warden crossing all counts are complete then locations for the new crossings will be listed and a selection process determined.

“For the new school year it is expected that existing crossing points will be covered and additional locations will be operational.”

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