Petition launched to make school road safer in Eastbourne: ‘It’s an accident waiting to happen’
Parents at Gildredge House School have joined together to petition for Compton Place Road, outside the school, to be made safer.
As it is, the pavement is narrow and slopes towards the road. Despite the road being two-way, there is only room for one lane of traffic so during busy times it often gets blocked and cars mount pavements to get through. All this teamed with children walking to and from school means parents believe it’s a safety concern.
Parent Katherine Eleanor Bruce has set up an online petition to make the road safer.
She said, “Generally, it’s a fairly quiet road, but at school drop-off and pick-up times, all that changes: it frequently becomes busy, congested, unpredictable and dangerous. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
The petition calls for East Sussex County Council to make the pavement safer by installing railings and carrying out a safety assessment in consultation with parents, residents and the school about the layout of the road to put safety measures in place.
Katherine said, “The combination of high traffic volumes, poor road layout, and a narrow, sloping pavement is putting hundreds of Gildredge House children and parents at risk every single school day.
“East Sussex County Council has the ability and responsibility to protect our children from traffic. Please sign this petition, and ask them to help keep these children safe as they walk to and from school – now and for generations to come.”
Parent Emma Coughlan said, “As an all-through school, Gildredge House has students from age four-19 who all pile out at 3pm and walk along this narrow, slanting and often slippery path.
“It is absolutely an accident waiting to happen as all it takes is one larger student to push by a smaller child and accidentally knock them into the road and into oncoming traffic.
“As a family we love walking to school and feel fortunate to live in such a beautiful spot where we make this trip on foot and do our bit for the environment. All I ask is for East Sussex County Council to please listen to and act upon the very real and founded concerns of local parents who walk this perilous route daily.”
Emma said when she walks her four-year-old twins to school they’ve had to ‘push in against the wall on this narrow stretch of pathway’ because of oncoming cars mounting the pavement.
She said, “This road needs to be one-way and the pathway needs widening and levelling. Speed bumps would bring down dangerous driving which is commonly occurring and barriers would stop cars mounting the pavements.”
Gemma St Claire said, “We struggle to keep our five-year-old safe when walking him to school along Compton Place Road. The mixture of a busy one-way road with cars parked along one side, and a dangerously narrow sloping pavement along the other side make it an accident waiting to happen.
“I have seen and experienced too many near misses. This cannot be ignored!”
Pauline Von Hellermann said, “Everyone agrees that it is not safe: the pavement on the right is far too narrow and slopes towards the road, and many cars, especially around school rush time, speed through it. It is basically really, really dangerous, an accident waiting to happen.”
It’s not just parents that are concerned about the safety of the road. Resident Eileen Digby-Rogers said, “Outside of school runs it is wonderfully peaceful, almost having a country lane feel, during school runs it can become a race track, danger to schoolchildren and pedestrians due to the lack of/narrow pavements, and extremely frayed tempers.
“I have literally seen schoolchildren pinned to the wall as cars have mounted the pavement, and speaking as a resident, I have had my car damaged twice and on neither occasion was a message left.”
A car-free day survey was done last September by ECO ED 2030 and asked residents whether they felt the Borough Lane/Compton Place Road area is safe for pedestrian/cyclists/car drivers. Ninety per cent of respondents said it wasn’t safe for cyclists, 89.5 per cent said it wasn’t safe for pedestrians, and 56.2 per cent said it wasn’t safe for car drivers.
When asked if they had ever witnessed any ‘dangerous situations’ in that area, 75 per cent said they had.
In terms of what should be done, 91.6 per cent agreed it should be made a 20mph zone and 83 per cent said there should be no parking in the narrow section by Gildredge Park.
Craig Bull, headteacher of Gildredge House School, said, “The school is in full support of the campaign to make Compton Place Road safer for our students and parents. We will be sharing the petition with our parents to encourage them to sign it.”
Councillors are backing the petition too.
Cllr Robin Maxted said, “Upperton councillors encourage and support any initiative from parents and/or residents to get East Sussex County Council to properly take notice of the dangers this pavement and road present to children attending Gildredge House School.
“The county council have up to now simply shrugged off requests for a comprehensive safety assessment of the road, and a previous petition for a 20mph zone, citing lack of funds.
“We have closed this stretch of road to vehicles these past two years on International Car-Free Day and the relief and pleasure felt by children using the road on those days was palpable and a joy to see.
“If we want our children to walk and cycle to school, instead of relying on cars, we must create a safe and healthy environment for them to do so. This petition gets our full support.”
A spokesperson for East Sussex County Council said, “We have previously carried out assessments along Compton Place Road in response to concerns, but the road did not meet the benchmark to enable us to put it forward for more detailed appraisal.
“We have limited resources and can only implement scheme where the need is greatest, but have advised those who have raised concerns previously that a Community Match Initiative is available for schemes that are important to the community.
“We appreciate that circumstances change over time and are always happy to reconsider suggestions for road safety improvements, but we would remind parents dropping off and picking their children up from local schools that they have a responsibility to park and drive sensibly and considerately.”