The South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) has cut more than half of its school crossing patrols over the last ten years – more than anywhere else in the province.
Back in 2003 the board had 146 lollipop men and women protecting children on their from and to school. Newly published figures show that now they have just 69.
It makes them the only one of Northern Ireland's five education boards to have less than 100 crossing patrols, and while all boards have made some cuts the SEELB is the only one to axe more than 50% of their patrols over the past decade.
It's happened because a few years back the SEELB introduced a controversial policy to not replace lollipop men when they resign, leaving plenty of local schools without a crossing patrol even if they want one.
The issue came up recently when a child was knocked down outside Crawfordsburn Primary School, which doesn't have a lollipop man.
At that time there were calls to bring back the crossing patrol for Crawfordsburn Primary specifically, but it's only now that the true scale of the SEELB lollipop man axe has been revealed.
The information was published after questions in the Northern Ireland Assembly from local MLA Peter Weir. Speaking to the Spectator this week, he said the SEELB axe should 'act as a wake-up call' and spark a rethink of the board's policy.
"Potentially, children are in a much more vulnerable position here than anywhere else in Northern Ireland," Mr Weir said.
"I grew up in a generation where friendly lollipop people were a reassuring presence to help and protect schoolchildren on the roads. We have moved to a situation where the number of cars on our roads is ever increasing, but the number of crossing guards has decreased.
"It is hard not to conclude that the current assessment criteria for need is too tightly drawn and needs to be reviewed. We have recently seen a near fatal accident near Crawfordsburn Primary, and concerns expressed at other schools. The board needs to reassess this policy before we are left with a tragedy on our hands."
A spokeswoman for the SEELB told the Spectator that the board carries out risk assessments when deciding whether or not to cut a crossing patrol – but insisted that it's ultimately the responsibility of parents to make sure their kids are safe going to and from school.
"Vacancies generally occur due to the ill health or retirement of school crossing patrols," said the spokeswoman. "It is then that the board will undertake [risk assessment] surveys to confirm the continuing need to provide a service at a location.