Mum says Newbiggin school needs lollipop lady

MORE than 300 people have backed a mother’s call for improved safety measures outside the Northumberland school where her young son was knocked down and injured in a road accident.

Christine King of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea outside the Jackie Milburn Campus with daughters Shona and Shannon (right)

MORE than 300 people have backed a mother’s call for improved safety measures outside the Northumberland school where her young son was knocked down and injured in a road accident.

Mum-of-four Christine King, 28, launched a petition calling for the return of a lollipop lady or man to help pupils cross the road safely at the Jackie Milburn Campus of the Hirst Academy in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.

She acted after her son Tyler, aged seven, suffered a broken leg and injured foot last November.

The youngster was struck by a van when he ran out into the road on the existing light-controlled pedestrian crossing outside the school, formally called Moorside First.

Ms King believes the accident would not have happened if a lollipop man or woman had been there to supervise the children as they negotiate the road.

Her petition has been signed by 313 fellow parents and local people, but tonight county councillors will be told that a school crossing patrol cannot be justified at the Woodhorn Road location.

County Hall officials say there have to be ‘exceptional circumstances’ in order for a lollipop patrol to be provided where there is already a light-controlled crossing.

Yesterday Ms King, who lives in Northumberland Avenue, Newbiggin, and also has daughters Shannon, 11, Shona, 10, and Michaela, 18 months, said she fears another accident if the council refuses her plea.

“It doesn’t matter how much you drum into kids that they should not run across the road, there is still the risk they will do it. Tyler knows he shouldn’t run across the road, but he still did it the day he was hurt. It has taken nine weeks to get him back to normal after the accident and I’ve had a lot of support from other parents, some of whom saw what happened.

“If there was a lollipop man or woman at the school the kids would not run out.

“They need an adult to supervise them properly, and there was a lollipop lady there until a couple of years ago.”

A report to tonight’s meeting of the county council’s south east area committee says a range of measures have been taken to improve road safety outside the school since the crossing patrol post became vacant more than a year ago.

These include the light-controlled crossing, road narrowing, highlighting of a No Parking Zone outside the school with zigzag lines, guard rails on the footpath and children being collected by their parents in the school yard to reduce the risk of traffic collisions.

Road safety officer, Les Gilbert, says national guidelines state that school crossing patrols should not be located on light-controlled crossings unless there are “exceptional” circumstances.

These could include poor driver behaviour, large groups of children crossing or concern about the youngsters’ age and ability to use the crossing correctly.

He adds: “The measures delivered outside the school are considered to have improved road safety for children, and mean that there are no exceptional circumstances which could be considered appropriate for a school crossing patrol to be provided.”

Mr Gilbert says he will work with the school on road safety advice for pupils, particularly how to use the existing crossing point.

Ms King and other parents are now trying to ensure that a lollipop patrol is provided when Newbiggin’s new primary academy opens later this year.

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