A SCHOOL crossing patrol was taken away from outside a Basingstoke school months before a crash which saw a 10-year-old girl hit by a car, the Gazette can reveal.

The lollipop person position outside Castle Hill Primary School was reviewed and removed after Belinda Mott, the holder of the role for nearly 20 years, passed away last October.

A mandatory review by Hampshire County Council using updated criteria meant that the school no longer qualified for a crossing patrol, Cllr Arun Mummalaneni told The Gazette.

Months later, in July 2021, a 10-year-old girl and an adult were hit by a car on the pavement outside the school, with the girl requiring hospital treatments for her injuries.

Shortly before the crash, councillors in Winklebury had come to an agreement with the school and county council to fund the position, but it had remained vacant at the time.

HCC told The Gazette that the vacancy was filled at the start of November, after a campaign from Cllr Mummalaneni and the area's borough councillors.

Speed awareness safety signs, organised by Cllr Sean Dillow, have also temporarily been put up on Winklebury Way, in a bid to slow drivers.

Cllr Mummalaneni said of Ms Mott, the previous lollipop person: "She had been there for quite some time.

"If a vacancy arises they need to apply the new policy and evaluate the traffic conditions. As for the new policy, it doesn't qualify for a crossing patrol.

"We worked with the school and lobbied with borough councillors and agreed with part funding with the school and county council and agreed to advertise for the position."

The Conservative councillor did not want to comment on whether the introduction of a school crossing patrol could have prevented the accident in July - saying the police did not comment on whether it would have made a difference - but said: "During the absence period of the lollipop person, the teachers were actively involved and managed it, and staggered [collections] as well.

"They didn't ask everybody to come at the same time because of the pandemic.

"There are so many accidents happening in so many places."

Meanwhile, Cllr Dillow said about the re-introduction of the crossing patrol: "I am really pleased because it was obvious that the safety of the children needed that.

"It is good that someone has taken on the role. That is what I was hoping for. Common sense has prevailed."

The Gazette asked HCC last Monday the outcome of the review, but the council did not respond directly and simply said the position was filled in November - four months after the incident.

When pressed again, a spokesperson said: "There is no change in position, as the recruitment of a school crossing patrol to fill the vacancy demonstrates."

HCC has been contacted for further comment.