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PARENTS and children have launched a campaign to save a beloved lollipop man from getting the chop.

Tom Dodd, 71, has been a regular fixture outside the gates at St Peter’s Catholic Primary School, Billericay, for five and a half years.

But he could soon go after Essex County Council announced controversial moneysaving plans.

A Facebook group calling for him to be saved was set up on Friday, and within 24 hours it had the support of more than 170 parents.

They are organising a petition to deliver to County Hall.

Mr Dodd patrols a zebra crossing on Southend Road before St Peter’s opens and when the children leave.

Louise Steel, 33, of Tyrone Road, is behind the campaign to stop him being axed.

She has witnessed a string of near misses on the 30mph stretch while dropping off and picking up children Jake, nine, and Oliver, seven.

Mrs Steel said: “It doesn’t bear thinking about what could happen if Tom goes.

“Cars speed down the road and just don’t stop at all. A lot of children cross the road, and once they get to Year 6 they want to start walking to school on their own. It just wouldn’t be safe without Tom.

“He knows most of the children by name and they all love him.

“He was really upset when he first found out what could happen, and now he is amazed by how big this has got and how much support he has.”

Chris Nisbetts, chairman of the Friends of St Peter’s School group, is dad to ten year-old Abbie, Isabelle, six and Nancy, three. He added: “We all want Tom to stay, and someone definitley needs to be on the crossing.

“Southend Road is the main route from Basildon to Billericay, so it can be really dangerous. If you have got a couple of kids to look after, it’s hard to stop them running across the crossing.

“Tom doesn’t just stop the traffic, he also stops pedestrians so he stops the road getting really congested. It would be a nightmare in the mornings without him there.

“There has been someone on the crossing since 2001, so what has changed? It is just as dangerous now as it has been for more than ten years.”