Huntly pupils put at risk at busy crossing by dangerous drivers
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POLICE patrols around the school campus have been stepped up this week as concerns grow that it is only a matter of time before a child is injured due to an increase of traffic in the area.
Aberdeenshire Council has agreed a number of measures to try to improve safety and both schools are calling on parents to either walk with their children to school or use a drop off away from the congested area.
The matter came to a head after school crossing patrollers at the busy four way junction on the school route voiced serious concerns for their own and children's safety - as drivers ignore their instructions.
A long term solution to re-direct school buses is under consideration but in the meantime roads orders are planned to extend the double yellow lines around all the junctions to make it easier for buses to move through.
Restrictions to parking on School Avenue and around the war memorial are also under consideration.
Councillor Gwyneth Petrie is pressing for urgent action after witnessing first hand drivers ignoring a crossing patroller.
She said: "Parents have also raised concerns around safety on the avenue itself and at the back of the school.
“Road safety around the school has been an issue in Huntly for years, however the ever increasing presence of vehicles in the area at school drop off and pick up has exacerbated safety concerns, and action needs to be taken.
“I completely understand that families are stuck in a catch 22 just now – it doesn’t always feel safe for pupils to walk or cycle to school, and therefore more families drive there.
"We must, however, reduce the number of vehicles in the immediate vicinity of the school because it’s simply too busy to be safe as it is.
“It isn’t always practical for children to walk to school – and I would encourage parents and carers to make use of the East Park Street car park to drop children off, instead of closer to the school, where they will only have a short walk.
"If you do need to drop children off close to the school, please follow all directions from the school crossing patroller.”
Road safety officer June Andrew reinforced the messsage from Councillor Petrie and said: “ I would encourage as many people as possible to walk and remember to choose a safe place to cross.”
Constables Mark Douglas and Jayne Bell patrolled in the area on Tuesday at the start and end of the school day, speaking to drivers who were inappropriately parked.
Extra police patrols will continue in the area.
Pupils at Gordon Primary School will stage their own road safety campaign in the weeks leading up to the October holidays.
The initiative will include compiling a letter which they will give to parents who park inappropriately and pupils will develop their own parking tickets.
In a letter sent to parents on Tuesday, head teacher Debbie Ewen said the management team were very concerned for the safety of pupils coming and going from school.
She highlighted dangerous actions such as parking on zig zag and yellow lines, double parking, parking on pavements and reverse manoeuvres in the vicinity of children
She said: "We really do need the support of parents in this campaign. We have genuinely had a few near misses recently and no one wants any of the children involved in an accident."
Huntly Development Trust yesterday launched a Mini Holland project which will look at safe walking routes around the town, and pupils will participate in that.
Gordon Schools Rector, Phil Gaiter said there needed to be a shift away from pupils being dropped off close to school.
He said: "I want to be able to say to pupils, walk, cycle or scoot to school but the junction with so many approaches means its just not safe for them or the crossing patroller."