‘Does there have to be blood on the road before anything is done?’ Mum raises petition over ‘dangerous’ North Walsham schools’ crossing point
Hundreds of schoolchildren are putting their lives at risk with no lollipop person to cross them over a busy road, claims a worried mum.
Rachael Baylis is so concerned about dangers on the Happisburgh Road in North Walsham that she has collected nearly 350 signatures on a petition calling for a zebra crossing.
Children have had to cross by themselves since lollipop man Tom Cornwall resigned last spring.
The stretch, which includes a well-used entrance to the Memorial Park, lies between significant bends at the junctions with Spenser Avenue and Pound Road.
It is used by children, and parents with babies and toddlers, walking to and from North Walsham High School, Manor Road junior and infants schools, Town Tots Pre-School, Bright Start Montessori Nursery and Poppies Nursery, according to Mrs Baylis, who has four children, including two sons at the infants and junior schools.
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At school pick-up times, cars parked along the road created added dangers.
'It's terrifying watching children walk between the parked cars to try and cross,' she said. 'There are 20mph signs up but they make no difference. Some of the junior school children walk to school by themselves and cars speed round the corner - it's really quite scary. A safety crossing is essential,' added Mrs Baylis, 38, of Westwick.
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She has been helped with the petition by Regenerate North Walsham member Paul Oakes.
And it is supported by high school head Caroline Brooker, who contacted Norfolk County Council to express concern when Mr Cornwall was not replaced.
Mrs Baylis has handed over her petition to Eric Seward, town, district and county councillor for North Walsham, who said he had every sympathy with parents' fears and had taken a number of steps to improve the situation.
There had been a school crossing patrol along the stretch since 1986 but, after Mr Cornwall's departure, a county council survey had revealed that not enough children from the Manor Road schools used the road to justify a replacement.
Under nationally-agreed criteria, pupils at the high and pre-schools, did not form part of the assessment.
Mr Seward said police checks showed that speeding was more likely to happen on that stretch than on other local roads.
Now the county council was writing to the relevant government minister calling for a relaxation of rules so that other bodies could provide patrols.
He thought a puffin crossing would be the best solution but the county council had not funded crossings for a number of years.
Instead, Mr Seward said North Walsham Town Council was due to put in a bid to share the cost of a traffic island with the county council.
Installing 'Think' signs and extending double-yellow lines down Happisburgh Road to the shop were also being considered.
Mrs Baylis was upset that the stretch was not considered dangerous enough for more measures.
'We have had a lot of near misses - does there have to be blood on the road before anything is done?' she asked.