High-fiving Plymouth lollipop man quits after row with local council

Parents outraged at lollipop man being threatened with suspension

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The Independent Online

A lollipop man in Plymouth has resigned after being threatened with suspension for high-fiving children he was helping to cross the road.

Bob Slade, a crossing patrol supervisor in Plymouth, Devon, helped pupils to cross a road leading to Manadon Vale Primary School, in Plymouth.

The 65-year-old former dock worker took up his position at the school four years ago.

Mr Slade claims he was threatened with suspension for making the friendly gesture as children crossed the road.

He told the Plymouth Herald newspaper: "When I got the job they told me to make contact with the kids and be friendly.

"But then they changed their minds and I stopped high-fiving them earlier in the year because they told me to stop.

"They said they would suspend me for four weeks but I said I would rather leave - I was going to retire soon anyway."

Since his departure the school has been left without a crossing patrol supervisor.

According to the Plymouth Herald parents were appalled at Mr Slade being threatened with suspension have since come out in his support. Parent Barbara Laws told the BBC that Mr Slade's actions were "not dangerous" and it was a "ridiculous" situation.

A Plymouth City Council spokesperson told The Independent: “We take the safety of children very seriously and school crossing patrols exist to make sure children can cross roads as safely as possible.

"To do this they must hold out the lollipop with one arm and hold their other arm outstretched to signal that all traffic must stop, this is well established signalling that should be understood by all drivers."

"While patrols can be friendly, their full attention must be on the road and they must watch the traffic closely at all times.”

"The high-fives was one of a number of safety issues raised with the school crossing patrol before he made the decision to resign.

"We will be recruiting to fill the position at Manadon Vale primary school as quickly as possible.”

In 2008 Ray Vallance, a lollipop man in Sheffield, was sacked for dressing up as Santa.

Council officials said he posed a health and safety risk as he was not wearing a yellow fluorescent jacket. At the time Sheffield council insisted it would not "endorse deliberate flouting of the law".

Earlier this year Roger Green, a lollipop man in Bracknell, Berkshire, was also ordered to stop high-fiving children in case he causes an accident.

Council bosses in Berkshire claimed that the greeting ‘confuses drivers’ and distracts them from the road.