Headteacher vows to put brakes on speeders

Headteacher of Chatburn Primary School with school crossing patrol officer Graeme Holt and some of the pupils.
Headteacher of Chatburn Primary School with school crossing patrol officer Graeme Holt and some of the pupils.

A call has been made to curb “selfish, dangerous drivers” by a school’s headteacher after a series of serious incidents.

It comes after speeding cars narrowly missed Chatburn Primary School’s crossing patrol attendant leaving him shaken.

Now headteacher Mrs Emma Gardiner is doing everything in her power to put the brakes on speeding cars.

“In the first week back after Christmas, there were two incidents where cars have been speeding along Sawley Road and have come dangerously close to hitting Mr Holt as he tries to stop the traffic in order for the children to cross.”

She added: “Mr Holt is putting his life at risk every day to protect our school children and people need to realise what they are doing before something happens to Mr Holt or one of the children.”

Thirty-eight-year-old Graeme Holt, who lives in Clitheroe, suffers from muscular dystrophy, which can some times affect how fast he can walk.

“I some times feel like I’m putting my life in danger,” said Mr Holt.

“Last week, a bus was only a metre away from me when it finally stopped which is too close for comfort really.”

Husband to Vicky and the father of twin girls Sophie and Jessica (four), who both attend Chatburn Primary School, Mr Holt has been a school crossing patrol attendant for the past six years.

“When I put my stick up and walk out I can some times see drivers coming towards me and thinking ‘no I’m not going to stop, I’m going to carry on straight through’, but if they’re adhering to the 20mph speed limit they should have no trouble stopping. Bicycles are the worst because they are silent. It tends to be people commuting, not parents.”

After finishing his morning shift as a school crossing patrol attendant Mr Holt works as a welfare assistant during lunchtime at the school before picking up his lollipop once again as the children finish school in the afternoon. He then completes an early evening shift at Hanson Cement as a cleaner.

“I just want people to slow down - the signs are there for a reason - for mine and the children’s safety. If you don’t see me you are not going to see a child,” he added.

In an attempt to curb the speeding drivers, the school has got new A-board signs asking people not to park in certain places outside of the school in order to make it less congested and dangerous.

Mrs Gardiner has also highlighted the issue in the school’s newsletter, has arranged role play sessions on road safety for pupils and is liaising with the parish council.

“The children have been shown the safe way to cross the road and have been asked to ensure they don’t step out with Mr Holt, but make sure he has safely stopped the traffic and wait until he signals for them to cross,” said Mrs Gardiner.

Claire Thornber, whose son Thomas attends the school, said the problem is getting worse.

“I’ve seen people drive through the village at ridiculous speeds,” she said. “It’s very congested at school pick up times in the centre of the village which makes the road even more dangerous.”

Coun. Gary Scott, Ribble Valley Borough Councillor and parish councillor for Chatburn, said: “Unfortunately speeding traffic is an ongoing problem throughout Chatburn and has been brought to the attention of the police on many occasions by the parish council.

“Parking in the village is very difficult, especially in term time, and this can add to the problem at the crossing with Mr Holt having to step out into the road between parked vehicles.”

He added that the matter would be discussed at the next meeting of Chatburn Parish Council.