'Traffic at school puts lives at risk' claim

The Westmorland Gazette: Ian Culley Ian Culley

THE volume of traffic outside a South Lakeland primary school could lead to the death of a child, a retired teacher claims.

Ian Culley, who lives close to Penny Bridge CE Academy, Greenodd, says youngsters are being forced to walk along a busy road as they start and finish school because there is no footpath.

“I see near-misses quite a lot,” said the 68-year-old, who has lived in the village for 29 years.

“The children have to duck between cars and it just is not safe. But I’m worried that until someone gets seriously injured or killed nothing will be done.”

He said the road which runs past the school is busy with parked cars, as well as moving vehicles as parents drop off and pick up their children.

He recently commissioned a risk assessment by a ‘qualified health and safety expert’, who concluded the risk of injury to pedestrians was ‘high at specific times of the day’.

“I’ve counted as many as 30 cars going past in succession without a break when school children are attempting to get to and from school.” He has since suggested the children access school via a tarmac footpath at the back of school, which would take cars away from the immediate vicinity of the building.

But county and district councillor Janet Willis said she ‘can’t imagine parents using it’.

“We tried a ‘walking bus’ but it wasn’t supported by parents,” she said.

“That’s the only thing we can do is change the attitudes of parents.”

A campaign is under way to raise funds for a new school car park which headteacher Lynn Smolinski hopes will reduce the amount of traffic outside school.

“It’s the same in all schools,” she said.

“But the car park should make a big difference.”

Currently only year six children are allowed to leave school without an adult. Ms Smolinski also works regularly with local police to try to combat traffic problems.

However, she explained that the school’s catchment area increased by around 300pc following the closure of Lowick School, meaning a large number of pupils have to travel some distance to school – and would be unable to walk.

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