Number of lollipop men and women down by more than 2,000, warns union

The GMB union blamed years of austerity for the cuts Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

Once a familiar sight on Britain's school runs, the number of lollipop men and women is in decline.

A new study suggest numbers of the yellow coat-wearing employees has fallen by more than 2,000 in the past decade.

The GMB union has blamed austerity for the cuts, adding the safety of children walking to classes is at risk.

It obtained the figures under a Freedom of Information Act request to local authorities across Britain, asking how many school crossing patrol officers were employed in the last financial year compared to 2009/10.

In 2009/10 there were 7,128 employed by councils across England, Scotland and Wales, but by 2017/18 that had dropped to 5,047, said the union.

The West Midlands and the North West were the worst-hit regions, with drops of 386 and 378 respectively, while Wales had 250 fewer school crossing patrol officers, with Scotland losing 163, according to the GMB.

National officer Rehana Azam said: "Ten years of brutal Tory austerity have left scars right across our society, and now it’s got to the point where our kids aren’t even safe walking home from school.

"No parent wants to get the call that their child has been involved in an accident, but that’s the risk councils are taking because they are so cash-strapped.

"Austerity is a choice but councils have been left with no choice but to make savings.

"Our public services need proper funding, so they can rebuild from the ruins left by a decade of savage cuts."

The numbers of lollipop men and women are in decline. Credit: PA

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "Next year, councils in England will have access to £49.2 billion – the biggest annual real-terms increase in spending power in a decade.

"Councils, not central government, are best placed to know what their communities need and are responsible for delivering services for residents."