GETTING to and from school in Selborne should be a lot safer now a crossing patrol officer – affectionately and traditionally called a ‘lollipop man’ – is on duty twice a day outside the village primary school.

Christopher Lawrence has been appointed by Hampshire County Council nearly two years after the previous incumbent left.

Mr Lawrence took up his duties a few weeks ago and Selborne Primary School headteacher Janet Knott, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have someone on patrol on such a dangerous road where our children have to cross to get to school.

“I just hope the traffic take heed when he is on duty and because he is there parents feel it is safer and they don’t have to walk or ride all the way to the school as the children will be able to cross on their own with our patrol officer.”

“It is good for the older ones as it gives them a sense of independence,” she said.

Some councils have been frightened to appoint a school crossing officer because of the dangers they face – some of them have been injured while on duty – and it has stopped people applying for the job.

Just before he went on patrol, Mr Lawrence said: “I have been a campaigner for road safety in the past and, in considering taking up this role, the danger aspect wasn’t really relevant.

“It is not the roads themselves that are dangerous but the people that use them. In my role as school crossing patrol officer I make sure that I don’t step into the road until I am absolutely sure that the traffic is stopping, and others should do the same.”

Rob Humby, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for transport and environment, said: “We are very pleased to have filled the vacancy for a school crossing patrol officer in Selborne.

“Crossing patrols are term-time only positions, with short shifts twice a day at times that, for many people, are not convenient.

“These factors can make it more difficult to find suitable candidates, particularly in smaller communities. When candidates come forward who are able to manage the unusual work pattern, their safety is our first priority.

“We provide comprehensive training and high-visibility clothing. We also work with schools to ensure parents and children are aware of road safety principles and we offer road safety activities and training programmes for pupils, such as our junior road safety officers scheme.”