Youngsters at Toothill Primary School met with Swindon Council school transport planners in late November to tell them of their worries when walking to or leaving school.
The December Link reported that parents had raised a 160 name petition calling on Swindon Council to improve safety at the main pedestrian gate on Stokesay Drive. The footpath is separated from the road by a muddy grass strip and the hazard in a congested area is made worse by a raised manhole cover in the middle of it.
The absence of any road markings also means lollipop man Mick Younger has to control pedestrians whilst contending with parents’ cars parked too close to the gate, as well as the vehicles travelling up and down Stokesay Drive.
The Year 4 and 5 children presented Swindon Council congestion and casualty officer manager Mohammed Shafie and school transport advisor Jane Deeley with a dossier of photographs and descriptions of the dangers they encounter daily outside school.
Pedro Rodriquez told them of a near miss when he and his father stepped out from behind a parked car to see a vehicle racing at them. “It was really scary, we had to jump back because somebody was driving too fast.”
Sheyniah Van Eeeden said: “I’d like to see a zebra crossing to make crossing the road safer. At lunchtimes when nursery children go home with their mums they don’t have a lollipop man to guide them.”
Jane Deeley told the class that the council is currently surveying all schools to see which ones are the most dangerous for pedestrians. “We have 80 schools to look at; each one is different so it will depend whether barriers, road markings, humps or flashing lights are the right solution.
“We are keen to work with the school to promote our travel ambassadors scheme to raise awareness of school safety through information packs and competitions.”
Commenting on the fact that there is an empty car park at Toothill village centre, opposite the school gate, headteacher Martyn Cowell said: “We have written many times to parents asking them not to park close to where children cross Stokesay Drive. Sadly there is a hard core of parents who ignore our pleas and still park dangerously. I really don’t understand why they continue to endanger children.”
Chair of governors Charlie Bansal agreed. “I’ve spoken with parents sitting in their cars waiting for children and asked them politely to use the car park. The requests are ignored or met with a rude response. I’m afraid something has to be done soon to avoid a tragedy.”
Toothill councillor Steve Wakefield congratulated the children for their work. “They’ve really studied the problem and come up with excellent ideas for the officers to consider. We’re not asking for expensive solutions like crossing lights – the request is for some road markings and signs, barriers at the gate, some drop curbs and a short tarmac path. I hope the officers can come back quickly with some proposals.”