Dancing his way across the Zebra crossing and greeting each child with a high five – Nkosana Mdikane has earned a reputation as the happiest lollipop man in Scotland. That is, until West Dunbartonshire Council banned the 74-year-old from high-fiving children for “safety reasons”.
But now parents, who say Nkosana’s ‘larger than life’ character helps kids to cross the road safely, have launched a campaign to reinstate the lollipop man’s right to make the gesture where he works outside Aitkenbar and St Peter’s primary schools.
“When I ask them what is the wrong that I did, they say ‘you are not concentrating on the traffic’,” Nkoana tells the BBC. “I listened to the rules, I am playing the game according to the rules – I have stopped (high-fiving).”
But he hopes the council will overturn the high-five ban soon. “If they don’t do that, they’ll be stupid, they’ll be extra stupid. I don’t want to push anything further, but it’s a carry-on.”
One local dad, David Dufton, has started a Facebook campaign to try to reverse the move. “Because our children want to go and see him they all cross at the pedestrian crossing, rather than anywhere else on the road, so he’s keeping our children safe,” he says. “Also because he’s such a ‘larger than life’ character the cars pay more attention too.”
A petition “Reverse the decision to allow our Lollipop man to give high fives!”, also set up by Mr Dufton on Change.org, has so far been signed by more than 7,000 people. Mr Mdikane began working as a lollipop man in September 2013, after moving to Scotland from South Africa in 2003.
“All our patrollers are trained to comply with the school crossing guidelines produced by Road Safety GB and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents,” a statement from West Dunbartonshire Council says. “This requires that when crossing children over a road they need to remain static with one hand on their stick and the other stretched outwards.
“This ensures that they can be seen and effectively provide a visible barrier between school pupils and the traffic. Their main role is one of road safety. This national guidance has been effective since 2012.”