QUESTIONS are being raised about a local authority’s commitment to children’s safety following the refusal to install a controlled crossing outside an Andover primary school.
Teachers and governors at Roman Way Primary School, along with councillors and residents, are questioning how seriously Hampshire County Council is taking children’s safety following the continued refusal to provide a controlled crossing on Viking Way.
As previously reported by the Advertiser, a campaign for a crossing is under way as conditions for children and parents walking to and from the school have become more dangerous due to increased traffic from Augusta Park and a rise in pupil numbers at the school.
Money for a crossing was set aside by Hampshire County Council as part of the estate’s development negotiations but seven years on since construction of Augusta Park began, traffic controls have not materialised.
Following this paper’s recent report, Hampshire County Council replied stating that money for a crossing is available but that the current pedestrianto-car ratio is not high enough for them to install a signalised crossing.
Executive member for environment and transport, Councillor Rob Humby, said: “Hampshire County Council currently has funding, from local developers, for a signalised pedestrian crossing on Viking Way, outside Roman Way Primary School.
“Provision of signalised pedestrian crossings are subject to site assessments determining if current numbers of pedestrians crossing and traffic flow warrant a controlled crossing.
“We are monitoring the amount of vehicles and pedestrians at the site to establish what the most effective crossing there would be because, at the moment, there is not a high number of pedestrians crossing Viking Way.
“We are investigating installing other options such as two uncontrolled crossings, one on Viking Way, the other on Roman Way, and will continue to monitor the amount of cars and pedestrians as the development grows, with a view to installing a controlled crossing here in the future.”
Acting head of Roman Way Primary School Sarah Jones also wrote to Cllr Humby about the issue after police assisted her during an incident of road rage outside the school, but received the same response.
She said: “I was quite disappointed to get the standard stock reply from Cllr Humby that had already gone out to other interested parties. Another two weeks have gone by since I wrote to him and we are still no further along, it raises the question of how important children’s safety is on the agenda.”
It is understood that Hampshire County councillor for Andover North, Tim Rolt, is meeting next week with Cllr Humby to discuss the situation.
Ms Jones added: “I am grateful for the support of councillors and residents and I hope that Councillor Rolt’s meeting with Cllr Humby firms up a commitment and timescales for the work to begin on our controlled crossing.”
Andover town councillor Barbara Carpenter is calling for a controlled crossing to be provided for the safety of the children.
She said: “Something has got to be done about it, it seems like money is more important than children’s safety.
“The situation is getting really serious there now, I believe some parents had to walk out into the road a few days ago to stop the traffic so that they could cross.
“The traffic along Viking Way is disgusting, what they don’t realise is that there are more houses being built at Augusta Park and there will be a bigger intake at the school.”
Responding to the county council’s objections to a controlled crossing, fellow Andover town councillor Len Gates added: “The issue here is not increased pedestrian movements but increased traffic movements as a direct result of the housing development at Augusta Park.
“Lack of action by both the borough and county council has created an unsafe environment for children and parents walking to Roman Way Primary School.
"Further delays in installing a suitable crossing are inexcusable.”
Raised platforms have been suggested as a traffic calming method although have not yet been implemented.
A lollipop person has also been provided and a second is planned.
Roman Way resident Grenville Strickland said: “The entrance to the school isn’t in Roman Way, but Viking Way and that is where the signalised crossing is needed.”
“Hampshire County Council decided to close Icknield Way and that closure has only exacerbated the problem further still.
“The school crossing has all the funding it needs right now and the crossing was needed yesterday, not in months or years’ time.
"This entire saga is unacceptable.”