Local MP, Huw Merriman, was joined by parish and district councillors for an early morning meeting with parents and staff at Punnetts Town Primary School to witness for themselves the dangers local families and residents face when trying to get to school or access community services.
Parent, Alice Conyers-Silverthorn, recently wrote to Huw to ask for his support for a campaign for a safe crossing point outside the school which is located on the busy B2096 near Heathfield. Huw took up her offer to visit the school to see the dangers at first hand and he invited local councillors to join him. Those who were able attend on the day were Wealden District Councillor Bob Bowdler representing the Heathfield and East ward, Heathfield and Waldron Parish Councillor, Patrick Coffey and Warbleton Parish Councillor Alastair King. All have joined Huw in putting their support behind the school’s campaign.
Punnetts Town Community Primary School and Little Punnetts Pre-School are located opposite a doctor's surgery, village hall, community recreational ground and car park. The majority of parents and carers have to cross the B2096 with young children to get to and from the pre-school and school. However, there is no safe crossing point on this very busy road.
Alice Conyers-Silverthorn said “Punnetts Town Primary School used to have a school crossing patrol person to help children cross the road in the mornings and afternoons but since this person resigned last year the Council have not been able to recruit a full time replacement. The Council have identified this road as requiring a safe crossing, therefore, there is a clear mandate to install a mechanical alternative. It is appalling to me and other parents and carers that there is no safe crossing outside the school or at any point across the busy main road. There are numerous near misses with vehicles overtaking stationary cars which have stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the road, nearly hitting the pedestrian. Sadly, this is an all too regular occurrence. Nearly every family with children at the school has witnessed dangerous driving and speeding drivers. There have been two serious traffic accidents in Punnetts Town in the past three weeks alone.
“I approached East Sussex County Council to ask about a safe crossing for our children so they can get to and from school safely and for the residents of Punnetts Town to access community services but they have told me that installing a pedestrian crossing was not feasible to due cost implications and a good safety record, despite the numerous collisions and speeding traffic.. They have said accident rate on the road is not high enough to justify the estimated £120k cost of a Puffin crossing point. Although a Puffin crossing would seem to be the best solution, their suggested alternative appears to be no solution to our road safety problems at all. This cannot be right. We need action. This is why I contacted our local MP, Huw Merriman, who has now witnessed the issues first hand and has put his full support behind our Safer Crossing in Punnetts Town campaign. The school community and residents of Punnetts Town are very pleased to have his support and the support of our councillors as well as the Village Hall and Doctor's surgery.
Huw said “When I was contacted by Alice, I decided that I needed to see the problem faced by local families at first hand. As a regular driver along the B2096, I know just how dangerous this road can be, mostly due to inconsiderate and dangerous driving. I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that so many drivers completely ignored the 30mph limit outside the school on the morning of my visit. It was clear that many people do not slow down through Punnetts Town during the morning rush hour. The endless stream of traffic at that time of day makes it very difficult for pupils, or anyone, to get across the road safely.
Whilst I fully understand the budget restraints that County is facing, I think the time has come to address the road safety issues at Punnetts Town School with a permanent solution. With the help of the school community, local residents and the support of local councillors I will be working with East Sussex County Council to explore all options for improving road safety at Punnetts Town.”