Huw becomes “lollipop man” to help raise road safety issues at school

During this week’s PMQs Bexhill MP, Huw Merriman, asked whether statutory requirements should be brought in to help deliver safe crossing points for schools.

Huw’s question followed his visit to Little Common School in Bexhill last Friday to discuss road safety. Headteacher, Mrs Linda Appleby, contacted Huw for advice after a pupil at the school was nearly hit by a car along Birkdale Road.  Parents and staff are worried that a child may be killed or seriously injured on their way to or from school due to a lack of safe crossing points near the school.

Over 600 children attend Little Common School.   Vehicular access to the school is restricted so most families have to walk into school from nearby roads, including Barnhorn Road and Birkdale Road. The roads are very busy around Little Common especially during rush hour and school drop-off and pick-up times.  The school previously had the support of two school crossing patrol officers to help children cross these busy roads but that support has been greatly reduced as the County Council has not been able to recruit anyone to fill these posts.

In order to help publicise these vacant posts, Huw donned the school crossing patrol uniform and with the help of some sensible pupils, two local PCSOs, Headteacher Mrs Linda Appleby and PTA member, Jay Mather, they went out to the school crossing point on Birkdale Road where a “lollipop” officer is needed in the mornings to help children cross the road.

Huw said “Road safety at schools is an issue that I feel passionately about.  I am aware of at least three schools in my constituency where parents and staff feel that children’s lives are at risk on a daily basis – Little Common, Punnetts Town and Hurst Green. . I believe it is time that statutory road safety requirements were introduced and enforced at all schools which is why I raised this at Prime Minister’s Questions today.  I am reassured that my concerns were recognised by colleagues and I now look forward to meeting the Secretary of State for Transport to see how my proposal for statutory road safety requirements at schools can be taken forward.

“Since Little Common School first contacted me about their concerns, a further two near misses on Birkdale Road involving school children have been witnessed. I am hopeful that some members of the Little Common community will consider applying for the role of school crossing patrol officer to help local children get to school safely.”

Headteacher, Linda Appleby, said “I am very concerned about the recent near misses involving our pupils and feel that more needs to be done to help improve road safety for our families on the busy roads around our school.  I’m very grateful to our MP, Huw Merriman, and our local PCSOs, Neil Holden and Laura Harrison for coming to the school to provide us with advice and support on road safety. I hope we are able to find some new school crossing patrol officers soon as the children really need and appreciate having someone to help them cross the road and it can be such a rewarding job.”

Little Common School currently needs school crossing patrol officers on Barnhorn Road in the morning and afternoon and on Birkdale Road in the morning. Anyone interested in applying for the school crossing patrol jobs should contact East Sussex County Council on 01273 482293 or visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/educationandlearning/schools/transport/schoolcrossingpatrols/  .