DIY signs to save children's lives

VILLAGERS are being asked to put handmade signs up on their properties warning drivers to slow down for children - because the county council has refused to

VILLAGERS are being asked to put handmade signs up on their properties warning drivers to slow down for children - because the county council has refused to.There are no speed limits through some Somerset villages and drivers 'roar' through many parishes, according to a parish council chairman, Patrick Smith.But although Somerset Highways will put up signs to warn of deer in the area, they have refused a plea by Chapel Allerton Parish Council to put up signs to warn about the presence of children.The council wanted the signs on the outskirts of both its parish and Stone Allerton to warn drivers they are entering villages with narrow rural roads.It also asked for signs in Back Lane in Chapel Allerton, where a number of children regularly play, but Somerset Highways turned down the request.Parish clerk Gerald Prince said: "The thing that has annoyed us is that Somerset Highways is quite happy to put up signs warning about deer in the area, but it isn't prepared to put up signs about children."Speaking at a parish council meeting on Monday, Councillor Robin Skidmore said: "We just wanted a few signs around the village. Because children are more valuable than deer we thought the authorities might put some signs up, but no."There are around 20 children in the village and, although there have been no accidents yet, the parish council does not want to wait for a fatality before action is taken.Members agreed to ask residents living on the roads leading into the Allertons to put up signs on their barns and in their fields to alert drivers to the residential areas ahead.The decision was taken after the council clerk handed round a letter from Chris Betty, traffic engineer at Somerset Highways, stating the signs 'cannot be considered' because the villages are too small.The letter said: "It (a sign) would normally be used in larger settlements where the number of children and vehicles is significant and frequent."Warning signs can assist in road safety. However, to be most effective, they should be used sparingly. Their frequent use where no danger is encountered can bring them into disrepute and detracts from their effectiveness."He added that the nature of Back Lane, with its houses, parked cars and narrow roads, alerts drivers to the danger, meaning they should slow down.But according to road safety charity Brake, road users are more than two-and-a-half times more likely to be killed on a rural road than on an urban road.The parish council will be approaching residents for their help over the next couple of weeks.

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