Par­ents fear for safety of chil­dren on dan­ger road

The Oban Times - - Front Page - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­

PAR­ENTS at Lochnell Pri­mary School in Ben­der­loch are call­ing for a ‘dan­ger­ous’ cross­ing across the busy A828 trunk road to be made safer, be­fore a ‘ter­ri­ble’ ac­ci­dent oc­curs.

One par­ent, D J Barr, spoke up at last Thurs­day’s lo­cal elec­tion hus­tings at the Vic­tory Hall in Ben­der­loch, ask­ing can­di­dates to sup­port ‘an of­fi­cial cross­ing to en­sure the safety of our chil­dren’, which drew ap­plause from the au­di­ence.

‘We have a prob­lem of chil­dren hav­ing to cross a main trunk road to get to their school,’ he said. ‘The school it­self has 123 pupils – 54 of them are walk­ers, plus 26 chil­dren in the nurs­ery, so that makes a pos­si­ble 160 move­ments of chil­dren across a main trunk road ev­ery day, and we have not got any­thing there to en­sure their safety.’

Pre­vi­ously, when the school was smaller, par­ents drop­ping off and col­lect­ing chil­dren by car could use the car park out­side the school, but staff grew un­easy at the safety risks of ve­hi­cles driv­ing in and re­vers­ing, and chil­dren ar­riv­ing from all di­rec­tions.

Now par­ents must use the car park on the op­po­site side of the A828 and es­cort their chil­dren along the pave­ment of the busy route be­tween Oban and Fort Wil­liam to a cross­ing point marked only by nar­row rail­ings.

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil ex­plained: ‘Fol­low­ing dis­cus­sions with the school’s par­ent coun­cil, it was agreed par­ents would es­cort their chil­dren across the road at the start of the day. Chil­dren are es­corted from the school by staff at the end and taken across the road by their par­ents.’

One mum of two, Emma Mac­Gre­gor, told of her ‘night­mares’ about the daily school run, say­ing: ‘I worry some­thing will hap­pen to my chil­dren when they cross the road, and I know I am not the only one. I have two young chil­dren – one in P1 and one in nurs­ery – here for the next eight years.’

Her big­gest worry was for her youngest, she said: ‘He does not know to stop, look and lis­ten: he will just go onto the road. There is no bar­rier by the pave­ment. Cars do not fol­low the 30mph speed limit. There is not even a ze­bra cross­ing. You have young chil­dren wait­ing with you while there is a child on the other side of the road. We can be wait­ing for ages.

‘ When you see other schools, they have cross­ings and we ask, “Why don’t we?” It is go­ing to take some­thing ter­ri­ble to hap­pen for them to put some­thing in place.’ Mr Barr’s wife, Kirsten, told

The Oban Times, as she dropped off two of their three chil­dren at Lochnell nurs­ery: ‘I am pet­ri­fied of cross­ing the road with my chil­dren. I do not think the car driv­ers are pay­ing at­ten­tion. Some are go­ing more than 20mph or 30mph.’

A mum of two, who did not wish to be named, added: ‘I have seen a few near misses with very small chil­dren step­ping into the road and par­ents hav­ing to pull them off. It’s hor­ren­dous. There is nowhere safe for chil­dren to cross. The roads are busier and the school is busier.’

An­other mum of four said: ‘They come round the cor­ner too fast, not re­al­is­ing it is a school. [ The chil­dren] could trip onto the road and that would be it.’

A third mum of three, who said ‘ mas­sive HGVs are not stick­ing to the speed limit’, called for longer bar­ri­ers.

A mother of four said a driver who stopped to let a child cross was then over­taken, adding: ‘They did not know there is a cross­ing,’ she said. ‘If there had been a kid there …’

A mum of two added: ‘ We are hav­ing to be re­ally vig­i­lant. Some of the nurs­ery kids are very quick. I have seen a cou­ple of near misses. One kid ran out from the tree and his mum did not have time to get to him, but an­other par­ent got to him. I think that was when peo­ple started talk­ing.’

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil re­sponded: ‘We have met BEAR Scot­land, who man­age and main­tain the road, and the cross­ing ar­range­ments in place are con­sid­ered ap­pro­pri­ate. The vol­ume of traf­fic does not jus­tify ad­di­tional cross­ing mea­sures.’

Trans­port Scot­land pointed to its £60,000 up­grade of a ze­bra cross­ing in Ben­der­loch to a new sig­nalised puf­fin cross­ing.

A spokesman said: ‘Our ac­ci­dent statis­tics do not high­light a spe­cific safety is­sue on the A828 at Lochnell Pri­mary School and we are not aware of any re­cent re­quests for a pedes­trian cross­ing at the school.’

He added that Trans­port Scot­land would ‘con­tinue to mon­i­tor the safety of the trunk road’.

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