‘Children will be at risk’ - Councillor’s stark warning over traffic shake-up
- Credit: Neil Didsbury
Children's lives could be at risk as a result of a traffic shake-up near a trio of Norwich schools.
This is the stark warning of a city councillor who originally spoke in support of a scheme to tackle traffic build up at Colman Road and South Park Avenue - before discovering its potential impact on a pair of pelican crossings.
Currently, children attending the three schools in the area - Colman Infant and Junior and the Clare School - use pelican crossings on Colman Road and South Park Avenue, which are manned by a single crossing patrol officer.
However, changes to how the crossings are synchronised included in the scheme are set to mean one officer will be unable to operate the two crossings safely.
Ian Stutely, Labour city councillor for the Town Close ward, says a second officer is desperately needed to ensure the safety of the crossings - but thus far has been unable to convince Norfolk County Council to employ one.
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As a result, he has formally withdrawn his support for the changes, which were agreed by the Norwich highways agency - on which he is a voting member - in March.
He said: "If the scheme goes ahead without the provision of a new school crossing control there will be significant risk of serious collisions involving children."
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Mr Stutely had previously also raised this issue at a meeting at County Hall last month and was told by cabinet member for children's services, John Fisher, that the responsibility to get children to school safely rested with parents and guardians - not the county council.
He added: "The approximate cost of a crossing patrol officer is £4,410 per year - what is that when weighed against the cost of a child's life?
"My comments are about safety and nothing else and I am determined to get another crossing patrol officer."
Jeremy Wiggin, of Transport for Norwich, told Mr Stutely organisation of crossing patrols had recently been transferred to Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service - and that it was currently reviewing the provision.
What the crossing patrol officer said
The crossing patrol for the three schools is provided by Adi Pope, who agrees with Mr Stutely that he could use some help.
He said: "At the moment I know the crossing so well that I have a sixth sense for when the lights will change, but even now I have lost count of the times I've nearly been hit.
"I can not see how children will be able to get across safely once the changes are made - especially for the Clare School where some of the kids will be in wheelchairs.
"It will make things much worse if I don't get any help - children will get stuck on the middle island and without a crossing patrol probably won't stand still. It will be dangerous."
Mr Pope added: "People regularly jump the lights here and I can't see that changing. I think once the changes are made there will need to be three crossing guards - I won't be able to cope on my own."
What parents on the school run said
Meena Singh, whose two children Saleena, 10 and Ajay, eight attend Colman Junior School, said: "I always bring my children in myself, but do worry about the children who have to make their own way in.
"I think the road is already a massive hazard for children. At the moment Ady is here and everybody feels safer when he is but I worry about what it will be like."
Lyndsey Ryan, whose eight-year-old daughter Mia attends Colman Junior School said: "It is dangerous as it is - the amount of times I've seen Ady nearly get hit is frightening and I do not see how the changes will make things any better.
"With the new set-up I do not see how it will be safe without two people crossing the children."
Gemma Royall, picking up her nine-year-old son Caleb, added: "My son has only just moved here from another school and it definitely seems more hectic. I imagine trying to cross will get more difficult."