Road safety outside Bedlington schools must improve, including by lowering speed limits, councillor says
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The B1331, despite the fact Bedlington West End Primary School is situated on the road and Meadowdale Primary Academy, St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy, and St Bede's RC Primary School are nearby, currently has a 30mph speed limit.
Northumberland County Council has a policy of introducing 20mph speed limits outside schools, but is not currently planning to reduce the speed on the B1331.
Bedlington West county councillor Malcolm Robinson said action is needed to make the road safer for the pupils that use it to get to and from school.
The independent councillor said: “This route has been a problem for many, many years and there is a failure to address that time and time and time again.
“So let's put pedestrians first. Let's put the safety of our children going to and from school first for a change.
“Let's just slow the traffic down as best as we can, and if that means a 20mph limit just go to it.”
Cllr Robinson has campaigned for a number road safety improvements on this route over the years. He says he wanted to raise his latest concern at the full council meeting earlier this month but was unable to ask his question due to the new meeting format.
He added: “If the county is going to pass a policy saying 20mph outside all schools, it is all schools. You do not just cherry pick.
“They are saying there is a 30mph imposed speed limit on that section of road. I guess that is the same as every other road they have made 20mph. So I am afraid that does not stack up.”
A council spokesperson said: “The council is committed to making sure that our roads are as safe as possible and has a policy to introduce 20mph speed limits outside all schools in the county provided it is feasible to do so.
"A permanent 20mph limit is already in place for Meadowdale Primary Academy, and on Netherton Lane for St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy.
"Speeds on the B1331 in the vicinity of Bedlington West End Primary School, St Bede's RC Primary School, and St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy are already low and therefore a 20mph scheme at this location will have limited benefit.
“This will be monitored and speed surveys will be carried out should the situation change.”
Cllr Robinson says the safety issue is compounded by struggles to recruit a lollipop person for this location.
He said: “They have problems recruiting a lollipop person for what is supposed to be a school crossing there because of the abuse and whatnot that they were getting off the drivers, so there is a problem.
“It is one of the worst school crossings in the county I believe, for recruitment purposes.”
A council spokesperson said: "The council is continually looking to recruit school crossing patrols and if anyone is interested in applying, please contact the council or your local school directly."