Lollipop man quits over sweetie ban


John Hunter is giving up the job he loves because of council rules
John Hunter is giving up the job he loves because of council rules

By Cara Sulieman

A LOLLIPOP man has quit after being told he can’t high-five the kids or give out sweets anymore.

John Hunter, 69, has worked at Corstorphine Primary School in Edinburgh for 10 years and has always been popular with the children at the school.

He claims they queue up to receive one of this trademark high-fives and he dishes out chocolates on his birthday and a Christmas.

But after one parent complained he has been told that he can’t do either things, and John has decided to quit.

“First complaint”

He was told by the council that giving out high-fives was a “health and safety risk”.

It was thought the parent complained after John gave a chocolate with nuts to a child with a nut allergy by mistake.

And now after a decade at Corstorphine and almost 40 years with Edinburgh City Council, John has made the hard decision to quit the job he loves.

He said: “This is the first complaint I’ve ever had in 37 years. Now suddenly I’m a danger to these children.

“They said it’s health and safety, but I can’t see if it’s the children’s safety or mine.

“I’ve built up a strong relationship with them over the years, and I’m going to miss them a lot. I was thinking about retiring anyway, so I’ve handed in my resignation.

“But it’s a rotten way to go. The children have made me promise to come back and tell jokes.”


John used to be a roads maintenance inspector with the council, and took up the lollipop job when he retired from that role.

Parents at the school have reacted with disbelief and many have written or called the school to complain. Speaking to them, it is apparent that John is popular with the children and is trusted by the parents.

One mother said: “He is warm and friendly to all the children, and even remembers their birthdays and gives them cards. He also attends school concerts and so on.

“Mr Hunter has done what he does for years and the children all think he is great. It is such a shame that it takes one parent to complain to spoil the enjoyment of the children.”

“Too far”

Another parent said: “All the children love Mr Hunter. I can understand why they asked him not to give out sweets, but not the high-fives.”

The move has also angered local politicians, who are asking the council to re-think their decision.

Councillor Ricky Henderson, Labour’s education spokesman, said: “I think they have taken it a bit too far.

“It seems like an overreaction which has put this poor guy in a position where he felt he had no option but to resign, and that is very sad given that he obviously had a good relationship with parents and children at the school.

“He is entitled to a full explanation.”

A City of Edinburgh council spokeswoman said: “We are really sad that John is leaving his post. Over the years, he has provided excellent service and a friendly smile to parents and pupils at Corstorphine Primary.”

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