DORSET County Council says it ‘urgently’ needs to recruit more relief lollipop men and women to ensure children get to school safely.

Peter Finney, inset, the council’s cabinet member for environment and economy, said more ad-hoc school crossing patrol officers are needed to help cover permanent staff absences at the county’s 56 school crossings.

He warned failure to boost numbers could lead to some crossings being left unm-anned.

Cllr Finney said: “Although the ultimate responsibility for the safety of children on their journey to and from school is a parental one, we choose to provide this non-statutory service in certain locations that meet strict national criteria. If we fail to recruit relief officers this provision could be under threat.”

The recruitment drive comes four years after funding cuts threatened to see all of the county’s school crossings axed.

Following a hard-fought campaign by local communities, which saw 10,000 people sign a petition to the county council, cabinet members voted to continue funding 50 and axed ten in 2011.

Rob Camp, the council’s senior road safety technician, said: “Unfortunately, we have come to a point when new staff are required to come on board and help us maintain what is widely acknowledged as an excellent school crossing patrol service.”

Mr Camp said the role is likely to appeal to people who are semi-retired or who prefer to work on an ad-hoc basis. Relief staff are paid an hourly rate with an additional travel allowance.

Mr Camp added: “We are looking for relief staff that can either cover just one school or several schools over a larger area. The more casual staff we have on our books, the more likely we are able to cover our school crossing patrol sites.”

For more information about becoming a school crossing patrol officer or to apply go to