A Chandler’s Ford mum who says she fears for the safety of her visually impaired children is calling on Hampshire County Council to introduce traffic calming measures outside Toynbee School saying “please help us before someone is killed.”
The dramatic plea came as friends and neighbours of Suzy Woolford, who lives on the Oakmount Park estate, gathered outside the school along with local borough councillors to launch a petition that has already attracted over 200 supporters.
They are demanding the County Council approves a full package of road safety measures for Bodycoats Road that includes a controlled crossing and a pinch point to slow down traffic.
The group says the road outside the school is heavily congested at the end of the school day by parents picking up their children and pupils have to attempt to cross the busy road from behind parked cars.
Uniquely, Toynbee has a specialist teaching unit for visually impaired children but does not have a controlled crossing for them and students have to fend for themselves.
Mrs Woolford has two children both of whom are visually impaired and are due to start at Toynbee soon. She says she is fears for their safety having witnessed several near misses when students have had to dodge cars while crossing the road to get to and from the school.
This is a fear shared by her borough Councillor Haulwen Broadhurst who told Eastleigh News:
“This school has a unit especially for visually impaired children. We’re so concerned because it is a very busy raod and when it’s raining it’s impossible
“I’m in fear and dread that one of them is going to get knocked over one of these days, we really need something here to make it safe for the children to get across.”
Bodycoats Road resident Terry Baker has been so worried he decided to set up the petition which can be found online at change.org.
Mr Baker said there had been several accidents over the years but they had not been publicised
“Only 20% of accidents get reported in The Echo (ed:a local paper) most of them get swept under the carpet.
“People are afraid to come out of their house at three o clock in the afternoon because it’s a rat-run between Oakmount Road and Winchester Road.”
Suzy Woolford says that County Council officials had told her that money for safety measures would be included in the HCC 2016 – 2017 budget but nothing had materialised.
Mrs Woolford insisted:
“We want pinch points, parking restrictions during school times and flashing electronic signs warning drivers that there is a school ahead with blind children crossing.”
In a statement the County Councillor for Chandler’s Ford Judith Grajewski told Eastleigh News:
“Bodycoats Road has already received a considerable investment in traffic calming to help pupils and parents. A school safety zone has been established incorporating both junction table road humps and cushion road humps that aim to control traffic speeds in the vicinity of the school
“The potential for a controlled crossing for Bodycoats Road has been fully assessed by Hampshire County Council and highways engineers concluded, unfortunately, that such a measure is not feasible.
“Factors are taken into account in assessing a site for a controlled crossing and cost is not a factor that is considered as part of the assessment process.”
Cllr Grajewski also said she had requested the County Council to undertake works to improve the visibility of an existing tactile crossing (a crossing designed to help the visually impaired navigate across a road) and invited other borough councillors to join her in pressing Eastleigh Borough Council to introduce double yellow lines to discourage “inconsiderate parking.”
The County Councillor for Eastleigh West Chris Greenwood said:
“Hampshire needs to listen to the local residents and look to find ways to address these concerns.”
Greenwood, who sits on the county’s regulatory committee added:
“If there is a genuine danger to the students and a nuisance to locals, I would support the residents in their request and encourage the council to carry out an immediate review which should include all parties genuinely affected.”
Hampshire County Council has not responded to a request for a comment.