A council has denied banning a lollipop lady from giving passing children a “high-five” outside a Sunderland school.

The crossing guard, who stands outside Grindon Hall Christian School, has become renowned for her friendly demeanour and the way she greets crossing youngsters.

But after it was reported that motorists had complained, and that Sunderland City Council had banned her from doing it, the authority has now claimed that was never the case.

The council had said that officers must establish the trust and confidence of pupils in ways that fit in with safety protocols.

In response, Chris Gray, principal at the school, told the Sunderland Echo: “We, as a school, love having our lollipop lady. She’s been very popular since she started at the school.

“I’m sure the council have good reason for doing this, but it does seem a pity and excessive.”

But the council said it is now talking to the school and the lollipop lady to resolve the misunderstanding.

ONE FOR THE ROAD
A county council in Ireland which voted to allow people to drink and drive has been slammed for dragging the country back to darker days.

Road safety chiefs attacked Kerry councillors’
“unthinkable” backing for special permits to excuse rural dwellers from nationwide drink-driving limits.

Noel Brett, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, said the scientific and medical evidence proving that alcohol impairs driving is irrefutable.

“On that basis it is unthinkable that we would go back to a system that sought to increase our drink-drive limit,” he said.

“We have made substantial progress in Ireland in reducing deaths and injuries on our roads, particularly in rural areas which are hardest hit by road fatalities and injuries.

“I think we need to proceed with that and continue with the life-saving policies that we have in place.”

Describing the motion as “off-the-wall”, Mr Brett paid tribute to Irish motorists for a sea change in attitudes and behaviour towards drink-driving that had made a significant dent in road deaths over recent years.

“That is what is saving lives and proposals such as this bring us back to a much darker day,” he said.

Councillor Danny Healy-Rae, a publican who proposed the motion, claimed the move would “greatly benefit” and even prevent suicide and depression among those who were isolated because of more stringent drink-driving legislation.

But Conor Cullen, spokesman for Alcohol Action Ireland, said: “Those in rural areas who may be suffering from isolation will not benefit from putting their lives and the lives of the other members of their community at risk by drinking and driving.

Ireland introduced random breathtesting at Garda checkpoints in 2006 and lower drink-drive limits in 2011.

Latest figures show 161 people lost their lives on Irish roads last year, a record low at 25 fewer than 2011 and 51 less than 2010.

GRIT AND HIT
A comedy video made by council gritters about their battle with the snowy elements has become an online hit.

In The Depot features Elvis impersonator Darren “Graceland” Jones singing about the trials and tribulations of clearing the roads in Torfaen, South Wales, to the tune of Presley’s 1969 song In The Ghetto.

Council bosses in Torfaen decided to come up with a light-hearted yet informative way of offering advice to members of the public – with a helping hand from the King of rock’n’roll.

A snow-covered Pontypool Park, Cwmbran bus station and Torfaen Council depot all feature in the two-and-a-half-minute music video spoof – which has so far proved a hit with YouTube users.

It was filmed in just one hour when parts of South Wales were subject to a rare red warning of snow, and saw Elvis impersonator Mr Jones give up his time free of charge.

The re-written lyrics in the song include: “When the weather turns / Blaenavon is a little more north and cold / Spread grit thick on iced-up roads / In the depot”.

A Torfaen Council spokesman said: “We are bombarded with queries about the weather and anything we can do to make the message stick we’ll try.

“The reaction we’ve had to it has been brilliant.”

The parody can be viewed online at http://tinyurl.com/snowelvis

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