Seems that a fastidious south London council took last week's severe weather warnings just a little bit too seriously. Lollipop men and ladies in Merton were ordered to stay away from their regular crossings as the storms hit on Monday, lest they found themselves in a spot of bother.
Council officials hauled the team of 'school crossing patrollers' (as they're drably known) off the streets following concerns that, as high winds whipped around the capital, they could lose control of their ubiquitous 'Stop' signs and injure themselves or other pedestrians. Those who wanted to work were forbidden from doing so, and with no real plan in place to advise parents, the borough's schoolchildren were left to negotiate the roads on their own.
Merton's negligence when it comes to kids and road safety is hardly new. It came top of a nationwide survey in 2005 that ranked unmanned school crossings, with 57% of crossings in the borough left unprotected against a national average of 17%.
It's difficult to imagine a more patronising way of treating lollipop people, hardy souls who are often taken for granted or even beat up for doing their job. The blame here is directed squarely at the scrimping Gradgrinds of Merton Council: many of the lollipop men and ladies were apparently willing to work sans the 'Stop' sign of potential mass destruction, yet the offer was refused. Would Britain have built an empire if we'd been reluctant to go outside in a stiff breeze?
Image courtesy of jek in the box's Flickrstream