My particular concern about replacing the school crossing patroller at the Murray Road site with a fixed crossing is that, whilst the school crossing patroller can keep everyone moving, if the site is changed to a fixed crossing, I think there will be times either when there is a big build-up of people on the (relatively narrow) pavement, or times when the traffic ends up queuing back a long way – in both cases, leading to safety issues. At the Scrutiny Committee meeting, it appeared that the key point of the consultation process was seen as being to identify such safety concerns. However, the actual question asked was much more general “Do you have any comments on the proposed changes to safe school crossings?” I think that is just one of the reasons why the consultation was not meaningful – and if the Council seriously wants to get people’s views on the proposed changes, we need to see exactly what the proposed crossing looks like, including whether there are going to be any changes to the pavements or parking arrangements. In the light of the concerns raised, how are the plans for the Murray Road site going to be taken forward?
Having undertaken detailed feasibility studies, the Council is satisfied that a permanent formal crossing can be provided in the vicinity of the school site that would not compromise the safety of school children. However, I understand the concerns raised and will work with our Highways Department and Transport Officers to consider any additional measures that could be put in place to improve the access arrangements at Murray Road. This issue will be dealt with in addition to the issues raised by the removal of the school crossing service and responses to the consultation.
I would add that I have particularly taken care on this site including visiting it. I have consulted with some of my local Members and I have listened to the debate that we had and all of the questions and comments that have been made. I have taken those on board in considering this decision and I have taken them on board in consideration of other matters that may be required to make this a better and safer access to the school so I think I have done that and I will continue to do that. I will continue to be committed to providing safe access to this school and I am aware of the issues that have been raised.
I very much appreciate that you are taking the issues at this site seriously however I think the overwhelming message of the consultation was that the majority of people did not agree with the Department’s decision that it was a safe thing to do. So my question now as in going forward you are saying that it is going to be something a bit different to what we said anyway and if you have a requirement to consult on significant changes to the safety arrangements out of school are you therefore going to do another consultation? Are you going to enable the people who use the site every day to have some input into whether the proposed changes are actually going to be adequate for the vast numbers of people who cross that road?
The main consideration I have had is that the proposal was for a zebra crossing and I have been persuaded that the possibility I need to look at is a puffin crossing. I do not consider that to be a major change. There have been issues raised around car parking particularly at the end of Oxford Road. That is a different matter and is separate from the school crossing patroller situation and if changes to the parking regimes are required they will follow the normal Council processes. I am aware of the situation and I have listened and will continue to listen but I think the principles that we have outlined previously are still valid.