Action needed 'before a child is killed'

PARENTS whose children have to walk along a busy road in a Suffolk town are calling on the county council to act before one of the youngsters is killed or seriously injured.

Mark Lord

PARENTS whose children have to walk along a busy road in a Suffolk town are calling on the county council to act before one of the youngsters is killed or seriously injured.

Residents from Waterloo Avenue in Leiston want the authority to build a footpath on a 500m stretch of the road between the cemetery and Highbury Cottages.

Parent Jeremy Taylor, who lives at Highbury Cottages, said: “Every day my nine-year-old son, Eli, and other children, face a walk to Leiston Middle School along this very busy and dangerous road - there is no footpath along this road.

“The road is used by lorries and for most of its length there is no verge and what verge there is, is full of dog excrement and usually overgrown.

“As winter approaches the danger to children and others walking along this stretch in the gloom and rain just gets worse - this is an accident waiting to happen.”

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Residents in the town are so concerned that Leiston Town Council has created a five year plan in order to pay for a footpath itself.

Town clerk John Rayner said: “The town council has tried for as long as I can remember, and I've been here 10 years, to get the county council to put a footway in between the cemetery and Highbury cottages.

“The last attempt got an assessment done by the County Rural Footways officer who scored the proposed footway too low to ever have a chance.

“The town council put £10,000 into their precept for this year to start a reserve to save up so we can do it ourselves. It will take another five years of £10,000 a year to get to the target, but it really looked like this is the only way we were going to get this done.

“The longer our children have to dice with death on that stretch the more chance there is of a tragedy.”

Concern was also raised by resident Neil Mays, who said: “I have lived here for the past 21 years. I have had many close-encounters with vehicles, with them either not seeing me or going to fast to see me. I always wear a high visibility coat and in the dark have a torch on all the while, but the other day I was nearly hit by a car, only jumping onto the verge stopped me getting hit.

“Surely there is a serious need for a footpath to be installed.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said that because there have not been any recorded accidents on this stretch of road in the past 36 months then Government funding would not be available for any traffic schemes.

Mr Taylor is meeting with Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer tomorrow to discuss the situation.

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