DESPITE advice from the county’s Road Safety Officer to increase the number of school wardens in Co Kildare from 26 to 28, the continued imposition of a recruitment freeze means this can only be “a suggestion, not appointments”.
“We are still operating under staff embargoes,” explained Tadhg McDonell, Director of Services at the Roads Section, at the 27 January monthly meeting of the full county council.
“We would need sanction from the Department [of Local Government] to see if we can employ more,” he added.
He was speaking in reply to a question from Cllr Kevin Duffy who sought an update on countywide services as well as “a prioritised list for future warden locations to inform future decision making” in a vain attempt to secure one for the school run chaos in his town of Monasterevin.
Cllr Duffy was told there are currently 25 permanent adult wardens, and one junior warden in the county.
“All crossings, apart from one in a housing estate, are on roads with a 50kph limit,” said Gerry Halton, a Senior Executive Officer at Roads, in the formal reply.
He explained how a review of all school crossings took place in 2018, and a revision on this “is expected to be completed by the end of June”.
“Any changes or re-allocations of crossings should be in place for the new school year in September,” he explained.
However, he did offer Cllr Duffy some hope when he conceded that the Road Safety Officer has indicated that this may involve identifying low-risk crossings where the warden “may be relocated to another school crossing which may prove to be of greater risk”.
Mr Halton went on to explain that requests for new wardens were placed on a holding list, which is assessed to determine if it is warranted, or “if alternative traffic calming measures should be used instead”.
He revealed that the Road Safety Officer has recommended for the provision of two new crossings for Ardclough and Maynooth, which brought a query from Cllr Bernard Caldwell.
“Wait now. I’m confused. Where do we get the money from? A few months ago there was no money, and I can’t get an extra hour [of Warden time] where I live,” he said, only for Mr McDonnell to clarify with: “the two new wardens have not been approved yet. We’re still operating on the staff embargo”.
However, he did confirm he would send the 2018 report on to Cllr Duffy for his perusal in the run-up to its Spring revision.