Petition prompted by fears for child safety

June 01 2019
Petition prompted by fears for child safety

MORE than 400 people have signed a petition demanding action to make North Road safer because of fears that children’s lives are being put at risk.

The petition was started by parents of pupils at Stoberry Park School, who say problems for pedestrians caused by cars parked on both sides of the road and on blind bends make it dangerous to get to the school.

They aim to present it to a meeting of Highways authority Somerset County Council with a plea for urgent action.

Parent Sue Ali hosted a meeting in her home to discuss the situation with other parents, councillors and PC Darren Pearson. “This is not about a battering on the school. It’s about the safety of the kids,” she said.

She said that her daughter was nearly knocked over recently in North Road – and she has already lost a brother who was knocked over and killed outside his school when he was 12.

Wells county councillor Tessa Munt said that North Road will be part of a parking review of the whole of Wells that the county council is due to start on June 18, though any outcomes will take some time to implement.

There was discussion about whether the parking bays on College Road could be time-limited again to free up more spaces, and about parking up in the area behind the wall from the main road before walking children to school, which some parents have now started doing.

PC Pearson pointed out that there had only been one reported accident in 12 months in the whole of North Road.

The petition calls on the county council “to implement immediate highways / traffic works to improve pedestrian safety and the flow of traffic along North Road”, and adds: “we require that action is taken immediately as this is an urgent matter”.

Stoberry Park School headteacher Michael Hawkins said that the school has had many meetings with interested parties about the issue, and would like to find a solution.

“It is dangerous, it is horrible,” he said. “We absolutely appreciate what people are saying about the children’s safety. We’re absolutely behind them. I do feel for the parents who do it day after day.”

He said that the school car park is open until 8.15am for Sparks breakfast club pupils to be dropped off, and reopens at about 4.15pm for pupils who attend after-school clubs to be picked up. But because of the narrow entrance and exit, opening it at peak times means traffic queues build up in North Road, making things worse.

He said that turning some of the school grounds into a drop-off zone, as has been suggested, would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds – hard to justify when school budgets are under such pressure and the hall roof, for example, needs money spent on repairs.

He believes that a walking bus, where pupils are dropped off in places such as College Road or near St Thomas’ Church and walked to school in a group by adults, might be the best solution, but says his pleas for volunteer helpers have met with little response.

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “We’re aware of the concerns of some residents and parents of Stoberry Park School. A number of visits have been made ahead of the Wells city-wide review to enable officers to observe the situation prior to the school holidays. Their findings will be discussed at the initial Wells parking review meeting during June.”