Warwick residents campaigning for crossing to stop school children's lives being put at risk

A group of residents in Warwick are campaigning for a signalised crossing due to concerns that school children's lives are being put at risk.

Tuesday, 16th April 2019, 5:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th April 2019, 7:37 pm
Residents taking part in the Community Speed Monitoring scheme on Banbury Road. Photo submitted.

More than 80 residents who live in the Bridge End area off Banbury Road have been raising their concerns about the increasing volume and speed of the traffic that travels down Banbury Road.

Many of the residents have children who attend the schools in Banbury Road and have long been concerned about the danger of them crossing the busy road.

This year students from King's High School will be relocating to the Warwick School site increasing the number of pupils making their way down Banbury Road and this has sparked further safety concerns from the residents who say there should be a signalised pedestrian crossing.

Residents taking part in the Community Speed Monitoring scheme on Banbury Road. Photo submitted.

Jon Grey, one of the residents in Bridge End, said: "The speed limit changes from 40mph to 30mph along this stretch, but it is never monitored by the police and cars regularly exceed 50mph heading into Warwick, only slowing for the roundabout with Myton Road.

"Cars heading south out of Warwick accelerate strongly once past this roundabout as they see open road for the first time on leaving Warwick town and regularly reach 45mph by the time they pass the school entrance.

"Kings High School is relocating from the town onto the Warwick Schools Foundation campus this summer, adjacent to where we live, adding another 700 plus pupils to the campus on top of the 1,500 plus who are already there.

"This will cause a significant increase in traffic on this section of the road and a step change in the number of parents dropping off and children entering the school.

Residents taking part in the Community Speed Monitoring scheme near Warwick School on Banbury Road. Photo supplied.

"As part of the relocation project Warwickshire County Council are making the Foundation pay for a new lights system and entrance to control the traffic in and out of the school. When the plans were published we were alarmed to find that it did not include a controlled crossing for pedestrians to cross the busy Banbury Road.

"Bizarrely there is a light controlled crossing included in the new lights for the cycle path to cross the new entrance where cars will be moving slowly and so is much less of a risk.

"33 residents wrote to raise the issue about the lack of a controlled crossing to the person overseeing the new lights project in Warwickshire County Council. They wrote back to us all that the existing pedestrian refuge in the centre of Banbury Road has been deemed adequate and a controlled crossing for pedestrians is not necessary."

The new light system is due to be installed shortly so it is ready for the opening of the new school in September and the final design is due to be approved shortly.

The campaigners have been in touch with the Warwick Schools Foundation and Councillor Parminder Birdi, who is is the town and county councils and Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western about the safety issue.

Jon said: "We have engaged with our local County Councillor, Parminder Birdi who has been supporting us and raised the issue with the portfolio holding councillor responsible for making the decision. We have also met with Matt Western MP who has written a letter supporting us to the council and described the need for a controlled crossing at this point as a “no brainer”.

"We have been told that the new lights system has gone through the necessary safety audits and reviews and he is satisfied that a controlled crossing is not required. We have received copies of the safety audits and at no point is the issue of pedestrian safety even considered, which again is bizarre given that it is a busy A road with speeding traffic passing the entrance to a large school.

"It is our belief that the council is too fixed on the traffic flow problems in Warwick and Leamington at the expense of pedestrian safety.

"The towns have long needed a southern bypass to stop traffic passing through the town centre and the bottlenecks at J15 of the M40 and the Longbridge Roundabout funnels traffic into the towns.

"It is absolutely a no-brainer that a crossing on this busy section of an A road is necessary at the entrance to a large school complex, but is being ignored over focus on keeping traffic moving."

As well as writing to the council the residents have also been taking part in Community Speed Monitoring with Warwickshire Police.

Jon added: "On the advice of Cllr Birdi a dozen of our residents have undertaken training by Warwickshire Police so that we can carry out Community Speed Monitoring on this section of the Banbury Road to collect data on vehicle speeds.

"We have been doing this on vehicles travelling south at various times over the last week and have found very many cars exceeding the 30mph limit with speeds up to 45mph at the point where children will cross the road."

On Wednesday afternoon 12 residents representing the campaign group attended a meeting with Warwickshire County Council about the proposed new traffic lights scheme in Banbury Road.

The meeting was also attended by Councillor Parminder Birdi and and Jim Button from the Warwick Schools Foundation.

Jon said: "The council opened the meeting with the position that the scheme had been through the necessary safety reviews and process and was deemed safe for pedestrians, without the need for a controlled crossing.

"It was also said that any change to the scheme would require further modelling to understand the impact any change to the scheme would have to the flow of traffic and any delays this might cause and the Council did not have the funds to do this.

"This produced a vigorous challenge from all the residents present, including one who bought her 14-year-old son who daily has the challenge to cross the Banbury Road to attend school, that it was not possible that the safety of pedestrians had been properly considered.

"We also commented that again the council was repeating a position that traffic flow was more important than pedestrian safety and that providing children safe access to the school must be prioritised over traffic delays.

"After much discussion about the safety review process it was clear to us as residents that there was not a satisfactory response as to why child safety had been overlooked to preserve traffic flow.

"Jim Button, representing the Warwick Schools Foundation was able to reassure everyone that the safety of pupils is the highest priority for the Foundation and that they would be willing to fund the controlled crossing.

"The council agreed to defer the decision for up to six weeks to allow time for the scheme to be reconsidered. We thanked the council for agreeing to reconsider and expressed a strong hope that the review would come back with the right response to protect children attending the schools."

A spokesperson from Warwickshire County Council said: “Warwickshire County Council takes the safety of schoolchildren extremely seriously and are currently looking into deliverable options at this location.”

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western said: "This is now a huge three-school campus and every measure must be put in place to ease access for pedestrians and cyclists above all else.

"All too often pedestrian access is secondary to vehicular access, but for a school site accommodating over 2,000 people it is paramount this provision is prioritised. There is also a need for other pedestrians crossing who may be walking to the heavily congested Warwick Technology Park.”

Mr Western also would like to hear from more people in the community and students of the schools.