'They're playing with our kids' lives'
HUNDREDS of worried parents, teachers and children are backing a campaign to save their lollipop lady.
More than 500 people have now signed a petition calling on a council to reconsider its plans to axe a crossing warden in Anchor Road, Longton.
Heather Rowson has been helping pupils at outside Gladstone Primary School to safely cross the road for nearly 19 years.
But the 56-year-old is one of 43 wardens whose jobs are at risk as part of Stoke-on-Trent City Council's proposals to save £101,000 a year.
Campaigners have now submitted their petition to the authority.
Headteacher Elaine Preston said: "Mrs Rowson is vital to our pupils' safety and if the council gets rid of her they will be playing with our children's lives.
"It is all very well looking at a map and making a decision, but they need to come here and assess the road. It is a nightmare.
"It is one of the busiest roads in the city and a lot of children have to cross it as part of their route home.
"Mrs Rowson is a well-respected lady in our community and nobody wants her to go. I have no doubt that a child will be killed sooner or later if she wasn't there."
Consultation over axing warden jobs closed earlier this month, but the council has agreed to consider the petition.
Thirty-one-year-old Kelly Challinor, of St Mary's Road, Longton, who is mum to seven-year-old pupil Harley, said: "It's disgusting the council wants to get rid of Mrs Rowson. The children and parents love her but the real issue is safety. I have seen it myself, cars go through red lights.
"The only reason they stop is because she is there."
Pupils took copies of the petition to local shops in a bid to drum up support.
Ray Brooksbank, supervisor of the Co-op store, in Anchor Road, said: "We are more than happy to do what we can to help."
The 54-year-old, of Park Hall, added: "We had lots of customers and parents signing up because they feel so strongly about this. Mrs Rowson needs to stay."
Mrs Rowson, of Anchor Road, doubles up as a dinner lady at the school.
She said: "I have been here for nearly 20 years, I know the road and I know the children. I will have to wait and see what happens but the last thing I want is to lose my job. I would dread to think what would happen if I wasn't here."
The council is due to make a decision on the crossing wardens next month. Councillor Alan Dutton, cabinet member for education, said: "Crossing patrols are under review because they are non-statutory positions. Only sites where traffic conditions do not merit a warden, or those with a permanent pedestrian crossing, are being considered."