A PRIMARY school has called for their long-standing lollipop lady to be reinstated by Bury Council.

Eileen Warwick has served as the crossing patrol in Coronation Road, outside Radcliffe Primary School, for 33 years.

However, the 74-year-old was "suddenly" relocated to Gorsefield Primary School in mid-December, which the employee said "nearly caused her to have a breakdown."

Pupils, parents and staff at Radcliffe Primary have urged the council to overturn their decision, and have even started a petition to "bring back Eileen."

The council has said the decision is "temporary" and cited high levels of staff sickness and absence as the reason for Mrs Warwick's relocation. They said they are prioritising recruitment of school crossing patrols.

Mrs Warwick, who lives off Church Road, Radcliffe, said: "I phoned the council to ask if I could be moved back. I have been there for 33 years and that routine has been interrupted overnight. I thought I was going to have a breakdown. I love being a lollipop lady. I am 74 and have not got many more years to live and I would like to finish my working life on the same crossing where I have always been."

Her husband Barrie added: "Eileen was initially told this would be for one week. She asked the council if she could be moved back and they told her they would review it in the New Year. She asked again yesterday and was told they would review it in a couple of weeks.

"Coronation Road needs her. It is a bus route, there is a lot of traffic, there is a roundabout, vehicles park on the double yellows, children are crossing in between cars."

Mrs Warwick was relocated to Knowles Street, Radcliffe on Monday, December 16. She claims she was only given four days' notice about the change.

She is working two shifts each day, during the morning and afternoon school rush hours.

Headteacher Alyson Walsh said that pupils and teachers alike have been "really saddened" by the change.

She said: "We consider Eileen as a long-serving member of our school. The school community is really saddened by the fact that she has just been moved on.

"The safety of our pupils is paramount. Eileen is integral to that. We are located on a really busy route with heavy traffic. I acknowledge that other schools are also busy but our parents have reported that they have seen children nearly knocked down."

A petition has been set up calling for Bury Council to reinstate the lollipop lady.

Parent Debra Baldwin said she went in search of Eileen to give her some Christmas presents, and was "shocked" to find her working as a crossing patrol outside Gorsefield Primary School.

She also claims she has seen a "rise in the number of near fatalities" since Eileen was relocated.

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Morning rush hour outside Radcliffe Primary SchoolMorning rush hour outside Radcliffe Primary School

The mother-of-two said: "A couple of weeks before Christmas, our lollipop lady was taken away after 33 years of service at the same school.

"I made it my ambition to find her. When I found her, she was distraught at the sheer fact that she has been moved.

"She is in her 70s and has manned the same crossing for all those years so this is a huge upheaval."

Bury Council emphasised that it is the responsibility of parents to keep their children safe.

A council spokesman said: "Since the start of the school year in September, we have experienced a high level of staff sickness and absence. This puts extra pressure on an already small relief pool of staff, and it has proved extremely difficult to recruit crossing patrols.

"When allocating relief cover, we have to prioritise crossing points based on the number of children crossing with the patrol, the volume of traffic and the type of crossing facility that is in place (unassisted, pelican or puffin).

"In order to ensure that the highest priority crossing points are staffed, we have to temporarily reallocate school crossing patrols to alternative locations.

"The school crossing patrol at Radcliffe Primary School has, for those reasons, been temporarily reallocated to Gorsefield Primary School. This crossing location is used by three times as many pupils than at Radcliffe Primary, with three times the amount of passing vehicles.

“We appreciate the importance that is attached to the school crossing patrol. On the occasion when we are unable to provide cover, the school is notified so it can then inform parents.

“Providing a school crossing patrol service is not mandatory, and the responsibility to ensure that children travel to school safely remains with the parents. Our road safety unit also works with schools, educating pupils and parents on how to keep safe on the roads.

“No parents should be parking in restricted areas outside schools, and we would urge them to drive responsibly.

“While recruitment is difficult, we are keen to increase the number of patrols available and have a permanent advertisement on the Greater Jobs website."