ROAD safety improvements for three Witley schools are in the pipeline, following the submission of two protest petitions.
Councillors were responding to officers’ recommendations action should be taken, following the submission of the petitions to the committee in December.
One petition called for Surrey County Council to implement a 20mph zone around The Chandler and Barrow Hills schools, while Witley Parish Council proposed a 20mph zone to make roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
The other petition, also backed by the parish council, requesting improved safety for Witley Infant School, called for warning signs and road markings in Church Lane to say it is a ‘20 is Plenty’ zone.
The petition stated: “The road system in and around Witley Infants is dangerous and not fit for purpose.
“Crossing the road, accessing the car parking and access to Church Lane, both by car and foot, is dangerous.
“Every school should have safe access for the children who are in attendance, but Witley Infants does not.
“There is not enough signage at two key points on Church Lane to inform drivers there’s a school; there are no road markings to encourage vehicles to drive more slowly and appropriately around young children; pedestrians have no right-of-way here.”
Officers visited both sites in January at drop-off and pick-up times and analysed road casualty data.
No injury collisions were recorded over the last five years in Church Lane near Witley Infants or on Mare Hill, near Barrow Hills, but there were two ‘slight injury collisions’ on Roke Lane near The Chandler, both involving children.
Introducing new 20mph speed limits outside Witley Infants and The Chandler would cost £10,000 for each site, but officers concluded a 20mph limit at Barrow Hills would not be hard to justify as no pedestrians or cyclists were seen travelling to school.
Councillors agreed that the wider highways measures were added to the list of future highway schemes and prioritised and the local committee would decide whether to allocate funding from its future budget.
Ward member Peter Martin welcomed the report, saying: “I think we looked at it very thoroughly,
“I do support the recommendations. I did have one or two questions though.”
He said while residents in the area were worried about traffic speeds, the amount of congestion meant cars were not able to go that fast.
He added: “I’m reasonably happy with the report, but if we were to try to introduce such a scheme, I would want to be much more convinced we are getting total resident support.”
Officers informed the committee implementing such schemes would not normally include a public consultation, and the council would fulfil its statutory obligations by advertising the new speed limits locally.
Councillor Jim Edwards stressed the 20mph limit would not just apply during normal school hours.
He said: “The schools have breakfast clubs and after school activities when there are not so many parents and cars and children around – and that’s the problem, because if you’ve got young children running around individually, there could well be an accident if we don’t have the correct speed limits outside school.
“I know from experience, outside school times, people do speed down these roads and we really do need to make sure the safety of our children is paramount.”