Moray school road safety plan
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BANNING traffic and major engineering work is required to address road safety issues around schools.
Councillors raised concerns that risks to pupils had been repeatedly highlighted, when a report on establishing a consistent methodology for all 53 primaries and secondaries in the area came before members of Moray Council’s economic development committee on Tuesday.
Five schools – East End, West End, New Elgin and St Sylvester’s primaries in Elgin as well as Buckie High School – will be assessed to gauge actual and perceived road traffic risks.
The secondary and four primaries have been selected because they have receive the highest numbers of safety concerns.
Elgin South Labour councillor John Divers said a meeting had been held a year ago between council officers, councillors, parents and teachers at New Elgin Primary, where numerous issues were raised.
He added: "What came out of that was two signs, which as with yellow lines, zigzags and everything else, have been totally ignored. We really do need to look at some substantial engineering to deal with these problems.
"We know what the issues are, we know every school in the area has a school travel plan, so when we talk about the methodology; the methodology is there already.
"We should have records .... these issues have been coming up for more than 20 years in this council.
"I looked at this paper and went oh no, are we having a box-ticking process here?
"I certainly hope it won’t be, because no matter what we must look at engineering designs to deal with the problems that we have around our schools."
Councillor Divers said there was no requirement for the report to be agreed by the children and young people’s committee.
He added: "Are we going to have to wait another seven weeks for this to come back to committee?
"I see no need for it to go back to children and young people’s – all we’ll achieve out of that is a nodding exercise, nothing more."
Graham Leadbitter, Elgin South SNP councillor, said he and Councillor Divers had been at various parent council meetings at New Elgin where safety concerns, including extreme volumes of traffic at pick-up and drop-off times, had been raised.
"I think there is a particular issue here in raising expectations, because a body of work – and I commend that work – has been done," he said.
"But if there’s no budget to back that up then parents and teachers feel that promises have been made to them to try and resolve a problem, when we know fine well in that area what actually will be required to resolve the problem will be some hard engineering work.
"That doesn’t come cheap.
"There’s a limit to what you can achieve with soft measurers in an area like New Elgin Primary when you have a school with over 500 pupils in it."
Councillor Leadbitter added: "It comes back to the point, as Councillor Divers said, it was a year ago that meeting was held. At what point will we be able to go back to the parent council, is it going to be two years after they raised it? Is that an acceptable amount of time?
"From the perspective of people on the parent council it’s like the council is dragging its heels and not being responsive to their concerns about their children’s safety.
"We need to get a timescale around this from start to finish to get some progress on the issues, otherwise confidence in the process will not be there."
Information on the safety survey is expected to be back with councillors within three months.
Stephen Cooper, head of direct services, apologised for the timing of the report.
He said: "I take the point it will be a balance between soft and hard measures, and if there are solutions we’ll put that into the process.
"They will then have to be assessed as to whether they will be value for money."
Fiona Murdoch, Independent councillor for Speyside Glenlivet, asked if there was an update on pilot schemes in other local authority areas looking at banning traffic around primary and secondaries at the beginning and end of the school day.
She was told that may form part of solutions in the future.
"I think that the horrific accident that happened in Bath was a further reason why we should be looking at keeping traffic as far away from schools" said Councillor Murdoch.
"I just think clearing the entire area when it’s full of children is something we should be looking at quite seriously."
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