Parents demand Yaxham school safety improvements

Emma KnightsParents in a mid-Norfolk village are calling for better road safety measures to protect their children at the beginning and end of the school day.Emma Knights

Parents in a mid-Norfolk village are calling for better road safety measures to protect their children at the beginning and end of the school day.

Yaxham Church of England VA Primary School, near Dereham, is situated on a bend in a 30mph zone and parents would like to see the speed limit reduced to 20mph along with flashing signs to warn drivers that there is a school there.

'I feel we are putting our children's lives at risk crossing the road at school drop-off and school pick-up times,' said Racheal Higgins, from Yaxham, who is part of the Friends of Yaxham School committee and whose six-year-old daughter Rosie goes to Yaxham Primary.

'I feel we need to act on this before somebody gets killed.'

Mrs Higgins said it was after being appalled at a driver speeding past the school on Tuesday that she, and the whole friends committee, decided to contact Norfolk County Council and also start a petition calling for something to be done.

She said there was currently a whole host of issues creating the problem including speeding drivers, a big increase in rat run traffic since the A47 Honingham roundabout was built, a lack of warning signs to drivers about the school being there, people parking in unsafe areas at nearby Well Hill, and also that the yellow lines outside the school have faded.

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Helen Frith, from Dereham, who is part of the friends committee and whose six-year-old son Hector goes to the school, said: 'The school is on a quite a nasty bend and the road makes me very, very nervous. Just one lapse of concentration and there could be an accident.'

Headteacher Sandra Nightingale said: 'It is extremely important that something is done about the road. We do not want an accident to happen there. The children are also worried and have written me letters saying that they are concerned about crossing the road.'

Liz Stallion, the parish council clerk and who also runs the village's speedwatch scheme, said the council had been asking for better road safety measures in the village for a number of years.

'It is a problem right the way through the village but the critical point at the moment is the school,' she said, adding that the issue would be discussed at the parish council meeting on March 11.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: 'Every school in Norfolk has a travel plan which sets out a series of practical measures aimed at reducing traffic outside schools and cutting reliance on cars for the school run.

'Yaxham Primary School's travel plan is due to be reviewed in the coming weeks, which the school does with the assistance of our travel plan team. Once the school's travel plan has been updated, we will work with the school to address any issues that are raised in it, including safety concerns.

'The accident data for the road outside the school doesn't suggest there is an issue at present and with limited resources, we do need to concentrate our efforts at known accident sites.'

t Anybody who would like to support the Friends' campaign can sign the petition at Yaxham Primary School.