Here’s a heart-warming tale for you:
Craig Hodge, a father-of-three, spent five weeks helping pupils at his own children’s school cross a busy road to get to classes.
He took on the role voluntarily with the full backing of teachers and other parents when their regular lollipop man was signed off on extended sick leave.
What a kind man! Surely only good karma will flow from this?
But now Mr Hodge, 38, a youth football coach, has been told to stop after the council and police said it was illegal because he had not been ”checked, vetted and trained”.
Was he on the sex offenders’ register?
Mr Hodge, who has already been checked by the Criminal Records Bureau, said the situation is ”ridiculous” because the order means children now cross the road twice a day unaided.
Right. So he’s not a known pervert, he’s passed police checks and the job entails looking for a gap in the traffic and then holding out a sign on a pole. I’m struggling to see what the problem is. In fact, even if he hadn’t been CRB checked, I wouldn’t really understand what the problem is, because even if he was a pederast, he’d hardly be likely to molest children out in rush hour traffic. I think someone would notice, surely?
Mr Hodge’s children Broghan, nine, Trafford, six and Ebony, five, are all pupils at the school.
But he was approached by police earlier this week and officers told him he would no longer be able to carry out the role.
Mr Hodge added: ”I had to get into the police car. She was very nice to me, but she explained it had all come from the council, and that I had to stop it because I was acting illegally.
It’s illegal to be a lollipop man on a volunteer basis?
Well, it seems that it is.
But lest you think that this is “just” down to over-zealous police or busybody councillors, rest assured that it is even better than that!
Mr Wright [the headmaster of the school concerned] has now sent a letter sent to all parents explaining that someone had phoned the council to report Mr Hodge for his actions.
”We have been informed that someone has phoned to report Mr Hodge for helping the children across the main Totnes Road and he has been forced to stop acting as a crossing patrol,” he wrote.
Dear me! Someone actually phoned the council to report someone for volunteering to help children across the road. And the council’s reaction is a classic response in the genre, of course!
A spokesman for Torbay Council said: ”Road safety is of paramount importance, but while we fully support all schools in their efforts to ensure the safety of pupils and to help us recruit relief patrols, we have a duty to follow all the procedures.
In other words, road safety is not of paramount importance – following procedures blindly is much more important.
Every time I read one of these tales, my soul withers slightly. Nobody comes out of this with any kind of dignity. The “concerned complainant” should hang his head in shame. The council have uttered the mating call of jobsworths everywhere and should really have told the complainant to shut up or go do a better job of it himself. The police should have told the council that volunteering to perform a valuable service to the community is not a crime and if they were that bothered about it, they should either provide a lollipop man or go away.
It is difficult to find hope for our future when faced with such spite, cravenness and stupidity.