A COUNCILLOR has issued a plea to the people of Basingstoke to ‘step forward’ and fill the role of lollipop person outside a school where a 10-year-old girl was hit by a car last month.

As previously reported, the child was taken to hospital after the crash at pick-up time on July 12 outside Castle Hill Primary School in Winklebury, with an adult also receiving treatment by paramedics.

Hampshire County Council then took the decision to advertise for a crossing patrol for the area, to help improve pedestrian safety.

However, Cllr Arun Mummalaneni (Conservative, HCC representative for Basingstoke North West) has now expressed his concern that the position may not be filled in time for the return of schools in September.

Speaking to the Gazette, he said: “I spoke to [HCC] three days back, and they had not had any applications. That is my concern. We need someone, and people need to look at this not as a job, but as a volunteering activity.”

Cllr Mummalaneni said he was “not really sure” why the role was so difficult to recruit for, but suggested that people may see it as too much of a commitment.

The previous and much-loved lollipop lady, Belinda Mott, sadly passed away last year, with pupils, parents and staff lining Winklebury Way on the day of her funeral to pay tribute.

“In the past there was a lady there who was there for quite some time,” said Cllr Mummalaneni.

“People who take this on are not motivated by money, but by voluntary service. It’s only one hour in the morning and evening and Basingstoke is full of volunteers and people willing to come forward to work for no money. But the problem is that no volunteer or parent has the right, legally, to escort children and so it has to be advertised in this way.

“Maybe some people don’t want the commitment, but people need to come forward and treat this one as a volunteer role given its importance.”

Cllr Mummaleneni said the accident “could have happened anywhere” but, stressing the particular importance of a lollipop person on this road, he added: “There is lots of traffic in that area, and that school is very popular with many parents travelling in to take their children.

“It’s very hard to meet the criteria to recruit for a crossing patrol so we had to make a special arrangement.”

The deadline for the position is tomorrow (August 24). However, Cllr Mummaleneni said this was a “rolling deadline” with the opportunity for someone to start later in the term if thats what it takes.

“In the meantime, we are working with the PTA and Headteacher on other measures,” he said.

This could include staggered drop-off and pick-up times to alleviate traffic, or use of one of the borough council’s speed monitoring devices.