Footpath work could endanger children’s lives, council warns
PLANS to build a new footpath could endanger the lives of youngsters walking along it to school, it has been claimed.
North Somerset Council is going ahead with plans to widen Dinghurst Road in Churchill, which will largely be used by youngsters walking and cycling to Churchill Academy from Winscombe and Sandford.
The new footpath may spell the end of the current free council bus services transporting school pupils to the academy, and would mean they may have to walk and cycle to school instead.
At its meeting on Monday, members of Winscombe and Sandford Parish Council said the proposed footpath could be dangerous as the speed limit on the road is currently 40mph.
North Somerset’s principal engineer for highways and transportation, Nadeem Hussain, discussed elements of the plan at the meeting.
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Various stretches of the A368 are set to be widened and North Somerset is looking to buy private land through a compulsory purchase order to complete the work.
Although both Winscombe and Sandford, and Churchill parish councils objected to the initial plans, they were passed by North Somerset in December.
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At meeting on Monday one parish councillor, Mandy Brading, said street lights were vital for the safety of children using the footpath. She added: “I am very concerned about the removal of the buses and that children will walk in the dark in the winter time. This is saving money and putting their lives at risk.”
Another councillor, Mike Williamson, said: “There are five buses which go from Winscombe and Sandford to Churchill, making that, perhaps, 250 kids who will now walk along the footpath at the same time – how are they going to cross the road?
“It does seem to me that we’re asking for an accident to happen and it will take kids to be killed for us to think ‘oh, we were wrong’.”
Mr Hussain said the safety of anyone using the road and footpath would be paramount and that the authority was confident the scheme would be a success, adding: “We are going by the examples of other authorities as well as our own.”
He also said that three independent road safety assessments would be carried out on the proposed scheme.
Councillors unanimously voted to support the plan in principle but only if the speed limit was reduced to 30mph and street lights were installed.