Parents at Merton school protest over council’s ‘do as little as possible’ attitude to road safety

By Kassandra Jimenez
February 19 2020, 16.15

Worried parents campaigning for a safer crossing outside Merton’s Park Community School staged a peaceful protest on Friday afternoon.

Teachers and pupils also joined the demonstration at the school’s Kiss and Drop on Dorset Road, laying a symbolic fabric zebra-crossing in the road they say is unsafe.

After three years of campaigning, they believe that the council’s solutions do not go far enough to protect their children from dangerous traffic.

COLLISION: One of four traffic incidents near the school since 2018

Last week, a pedestrian was knocked over by a car exiting the A24 right outside the school just before Monday’s busy school pick up time.

Kerry Reynolds, a parent who witnessed the incident, said: “The car hit him and he went flying back and hit his head on the concrete pavement, I had to run over and give him first aid. 

“The gentleman was OK, but if it had been a child I think it would have been a completely different story, the child wouldn’t have made it at all.” 

Several other traffic incidents have occurred outside the school in the last two years. A car smashed into a tree by the school gates, a parent’s car door was badly damaged whilst dropping off his child, and two cars collided on the corner of Daybrook Road.

Rebecca Trotman, who has two children at the school, said: “My children almost got hit by a car. 

“We just need a safe haven. Somewhere where, if you get on to the road, you can actually wait and you won’t get hit by a car.”

SQUEEZE: Pupils rush to cross the busy road directly outside the school

Merton Council has proposed placing a speed table (a raised section of road that is longer and flatter than a speed hump) on Dorset Road, narrowing it down by a maximum of one metre, and the removal of the existing speed cushions, between the school and the A24.

This offer came after the parents proposed two possible solutions.

Initially a zebra crossing was requested, but after carrying out some assessments, the council concluded that the school does not qualify for it.

According to Tim Harris, a parent and campaigner, it took more than two years for the assessments in 2018 to be carried out.

Mr Harris said the assessment took place on a week when other schools were on half term hence light traffic, ignored people using the crossing island up the road, and took no notice of the fact that the number of pupils enrolled in the school will soon grow, going from 90 to 210 when it reaches full capacity.

Mr Harris said: “The council are not coming at it with an attitude of how can we produce the best solution, they are coming at it with, what is seems to us, an attitude of how can we do as little as possible.”

The installation of a speed table with central traffic islands and a pedestrian refuge was the second option requested by the parents, according to Mrs Trotman and Mr Harris .

Merton Council’s proposals do not include central traffic islands.

Mr Harris said: “We sent details of how you can put an island there, we put drawings, we responded to the engineers concerns and that was about six weeks ago. 

“Then their reply ‘was simply we are going to do a consultation, and that if you want to contribute to the consultation, that is your opportunity’.”

The consultation period for these changes ends on 28 February 2020.

Merton Council was contacted for comment.

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