Whalley ‘Danger zone’ leads to highways meeting

DANGER ZONE: Parked cars and vehicles manoevring across the designated safe walking route to Whalley Primary School.
DANGER ZONE: Parked cars and vehicles manoevring across the designated safe walking route to Whalley Primary School.

CALLS for action to stop dangerous parking and vehicle manoeuvres across a designated safe walking route to Whalley Primary School have prompted a “long overdue” meeting with highways chiefs.

The primary school’s head teacher Dr Steve Austin, parents, local residents and the police have been lobbying Lancashire County Council’s (LCC) highway’s department to remedy the problem since July.

But they have become so frustrated with LCC’s lack of action that a formal complaint has been made to its highways department.

Local resident Mr Andrew Harper explained that Church Lane, the road which runs past the school, was realigned three-and-a-half years ago to create a more narrow and therefore safer crossing for school pupils as part of the council’s safer routes to schools scheme.

However, this work also left an area of resurfaced redundant land opposite the school which soon became an attractive makeshift parking area for parents dropping off their children.

Parking here forces vehicles to cross over the “keep clear” zig zag markings painted in front of the school – therefore endangering pupils crossing the road.

Road markings which would prevent parking on that side of the road were also removed in July during road resurfacing work and have only been partially reinstated.

“There have been two minor accidents since the changes took place and several near-misses,” said Mr Harper. “It can only be a matter of time before a more serious incident occurs.”

Along with head teacher Dr Austin who, through this newspaper and school newsletters has repeatedly made requests that people do not park on that area, Mr Harper argues that bollards should be erected or “keep clear” markings painted on this area to prevent it being used as a car park. Without any markings restricting parking on this area the police have no legal authority to prevent people parking there.

“I’ve seen an increase in the danger to children in recent weeks in regards of where people park and how they drive down the road,” said Dr Austin. “It’s getting worse.”

He added that Church Lane was not even a designated 20 mph zone: “The speed limit is still 30 mph which is very unusual for a road outside a school.”

Along with preventing parking near the school, Dr Austin also believes there should be a 20 mph speed limit on Church Lane and a zebra crossing.

In response to the complaints, Andrew Ashcroft, highways manager for Ribble Valley, said: “Local residents have raised concerns about parking around Whalley Primary School earlier this year.

“We spoke to the school and the police regarding these issues and changed some of the road markings around the school to try and improve the situation.

“Following these latest concerns, we will arrange to meet with the police, the school and local residents to look at whether the road markings are effective and to see if there is any further action we can take to improve the situation.”

• As The Clitheroe Advertiser went to press it learnt that a meeting had taken place with LCC highways department, the school’s head teacher Dr Austin, local residents and the police. See next week’s paper to read about any new developments.