Fears for safety of Morpeth schoolchildren as pupils cross busy road unaided

Morpeth Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools, which share a site next to a B road, have had no crossing patrol in place since October

Chantry Middle School and Newminster Middle School have no crossing patrol in place
Chantry Middle School and Newminster Middle School have no crossing patrol in place

Fears have been voiced for the safety of around 1,000 schoolchildren who are having to cross a busy road unaided.

Morpeth Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools, which share a site next to a B road, have had no crossing patrol in place since October.

With no appointment in the offing, grave concerns have been expressed that a child could be knocked down and injured or even killed while crossing the road without a patrol.

A school head, a parent and the local education authority last night issued a plea for anyone interested in filling the role to come forward.

The schools, which have around 500 nine to 13 year-old pupils each, are based on the B6343 Mitford Road, used by many motorists to travel to and from the town and close to where Morpeth’s new flood defences are being built.

However, the crossing patrol officer who served the schools was moved to a school in his home town of Ashington in October, after Northumberland County Council ceased paying travel expenses.

A replacement was lined up by the authority but on the day he was due to start in December, told officers he had landed another job.

No-one else has been identified to fill the role.

Steven Johnson, head of school at Chantry, last night told how the school had tried to find a replacement through newsletters and text messages to parents.

Staff at the schools are allowed to be present at the road side but can not escort children across the road without training.

Mr Johnson said no staff had expressed interest in receiving it.

“We are just really struggling and we have to try and move this agenda forward because the road outside the school is a busy B road and we feel there should be a school crossing patrol there really.

“We just need someone out there in the community to come and do that.”

Mr Johnson voiced concerns over the lack of safety measures in place outside the school, such as a zebra crossing.

He said there had been no accidents yet but added: “I think that we have to be aware that that may happen and we do not want that to happen, I do think that could be a possibility.”

Alison Byard, a 47-year-old Morpeth Town councillor from Crookham Grove in Stobhill Manor whose 11-year-old daughter Katie is a year seven pupil at Chantry, said: “It is a danger.

“It has been going on a long time but a child could be killed if there is no crossing attendant.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The council is actively recruiting for school crossing patrol officers.

“We would ask anyone who is interested in undertaking such a valuable and rewarding role to apply via the county council jobs site. We regularly advertise via social media as well as the local press and school newsletters in order to fill vacancies as they arise.

“However, we do advise parents that the council does not have a statutory responsibility to provide school crossing patrol officers. Until a replacement can be found, it is ultimately parents’ responsibility to ensure that their child gets to school safely.

“We appreciate that this is a busy road, and until a replacement officer can be found parents are asked to help ensure that children cross the road safely.”

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