Action urged over 'rat run' near school

SCHOOLCHILDREN could be killed if highways chiefs fail to take action to slow traffic which uses a town's back roads as a rat run to avoid congested main routes.

SCHOOLCHILDREN could be killed if highways chiefs fail to take action to slow traffic which uses a town's back roads as a rat run to avoid congested main routes.

Chris Stone, headteacher at Breckland Middle School in Brandon, made the warning in a bid to have a 20mph speed limit imposed outside the Crown Street school and flashing "slow down" signs put up.

Mr Stone said: "We really need substantial traffic calming measures in Crown Street. At the moment there's nothing to suggest that drivers should slow down as they approach the school.

"We haven't had any serious incidents yet but it only takes one mistake on the road to kill a child and we don't want that to happen – we want to make sure the children are as safe as possible."

He said more and more traffic used the back roads around the school to avoid the traffic congestion, which builds up around the main town centre traffic lights.

"Crown Street is becoming a bit of a rat run. Drivers are taking the longer route to avoid the traffic jams around the traffic lights because it takes time off their journeys but it means there's much more traffic around the school.

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"Personally, I would like a 20mph limit introduced in conjunction with flashing 'slow down' or 'too fast' signs triggered by speeding cars – there definitely needs to be a reduction in speed."

Mr Stone added: "So far, they have said they will look into the matter very carefully. They have said they will put yellow zig zag lines down both sides of the road outside the school instead of just one and designate a parking bay for the school bus in a side street so it doesn't have to park at the front.

"They have said they will also look at other calming measures in the near future so they are being responsible but something wants to be done and it needs to happen as soon as possible."

The area's MP Richard Spring, who supports Mr Stone's efforts said: "I will certainly be taking the matter further. Road safety for young children is one of the highest and most important priorities."

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: "In developing the Local Transport Action Plan for Brandon we carried out a walking and cycling study and a safety to school consultation.

"The study has identified possible solutions to improve road safety in the vicinity of the school. We will be consulting with the school, parents and residents later this year and decide on the most appropriate action to be taken."

Mr Spring was also at Haverhill Golf Club to hear concerns about traffic speed on roads there. He met parent Ann Sisson to hear about dangers posed to children by high-speed traffic passing the club entrance.

Mrs Sisson said she was anxious to see slow signs put up to make that part of the road safer when children come and go from the club.

Mr Spring said: "I was concerned when I heard about this particular road safety issue. Many children enjoy golf lessons, but their enjoyment must not be compromised by road safety risks. I will look at the situation with Mrs Sisson and other parents to see how best to take the matter forward."

A spokesman for Essex County Council, which is responsible for the stretch of road at the entrance to the club, said no one had approached the authority expressing fears but he said officers would be happy to look into any concerns.

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