AFTER 25 years of service, the lollipop man at The Priory School in Christchurch will be hanging up his fluorescent hat at the end of this term, as the school are waiting to hear if a replacement will be found.

Mike Varnham has been keeping students safe crossing Wick Lane, a one way road that is part of a 20mph zone, for over a quarter of a century, where it isn’t possible for staff to monitor the road and a zebra crossing is not present.

This comes a week after the council said a decision had yet to have been made about the future crossing provision at Hill View Academy in Bournemouth, which caused an uproar among parents and members of the school’s Parent Teacher Association.

Paul Ruffle, headmaster of The Priory CE School said: “On behalf of everyone at the school, I want to express my gratitude to Mike so his admirable service to the school over 25 years.

“We haven’t heard yet if the council are to find a replacement school crossing warden, we are still awaiting confirmation from the council’s risk assessment.”

School crossing patrols operate for approximately 60 minutes each school day, compared to permanent crossings which are available to the local community 365 days per year.

In the last six years, the preceding council’s invested in zebra or puffin crossings at nine sites across the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area that previously had school crossing patrols and there have been no reported injury accidents to any pedestrians at any of the locations.

In a recent newsletter published by the school on Friday, they said that they felt a school crossing warden is “much needed on a very busy, narrow and congested stretch of road”.

They went on to say that they were aware that “the council are having to find significant savings and other school crossing wardens have not been replaced”.

A BCP Council spokesperson said: “The school crossing patroller at Wick Lane is planning to retire at the end of their term and we thank them for their service.

“In line with RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) guidelines, the site will now be reviewed to understand if a permanent crossing facility in lieu of the patrol site will provide wider benefits to the community.’’

“At this stage however, we must stress that no decision has yet been made.”

The school are calling on parents to contact the council to highlight the importance of a school crossing warden on Wick Lane and to prevent the council from removing the position altogether.

Ward councillor Mike Cox has condemned the council’s actions in not providing a replacement for the lollipop man.

The Liberal Democrat candidate has campaigned to allocate a small area of the local Wick Lane car park for parents at the peak times, where he has been met with “considerable resistance”.

He said: “The current Lollipop man provides an invaluable service to the School, the parents and, in particular, the children.

“A replacement is essential as the current problems with traffic at drop off and pick up are horrendous with little on street parking available nearby.”