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Parents speak out about dangers outside Brontė

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Parents speak out about dangers outside Brontė thumbnailLocal residents, school parents, teachers and elected representatives at the scene of the recent collision on the Ballinskeagh Road.

PARENTS of Brontė Primary School pupils fear one of their children could have been injured or even killed last week after a car crashed into the entrance wall to the school.

A car crashed into the pillar last Thursday (16 February) during half term and parents have been left questioning why a reduction to the speed limit has not been introduced almost a year after it was promised.

Parents, school representatives and residents have been campaigning for a speed reduction for part of the Ballinaskeagh Road, in particular the area outside the school gates. The traffic being allowed to travel at a legal speed of 60mph has been described as a "serious accident waiting to happen".

And late last Thursday afternoon, their fears were realised when a car crashed into a wall at the school.

Parents met at the school last Friday (17 February) to survey the damage and speak about their fears for their children's safety.

Kay Davidson, who lives directly opposite the school, said as both a parent of the school and a resident, she wants to see a speed limit of 20mph and ramps imposed on the road.

“I did not sleep a wink last night [Thursday]," said Kay, who added that due to the number of accidents and 'near misses' on the road, they are now terrified of a child getting hurt.

“I just think it is going to happen and which one of our kids is it going to happen to?"

Kay, a mother-of-three, crosses the road to school at least four times a day and the incident last week had her and her neighbour at the point of tears.

“We were both on the point of tears, she was visibly shaking and we both feel absolutely terrified how real the danger is to our children living on this road.

“A child could very easily have been killed there. There is normally football classes late on a Thursday and kids could very easily have been caught up in that, only it was half term."

It is understood the car involved was overtaking another vehicle when it had to swerve to avoid an oncoming vehicle outside the school gates.

Another neighbour, who lives directly opposite, now fears that a car could end up in her garden.

“It has totally scared the life out of us all. We are now talking about steel beam reinforcements for our garden fence so we can protect our kids while they are playing in their enclosed garden," said Kay.

The parents have been campaigning since September 2015 for a speed reduction and felt they had won their battle last March. At that time, they were told a permanent 40mph speed limit would be introduced by December at the latest.

This has still not happened and no new date has been given.

Just last month the Minister for Infrastructure, Chris Hazzard announced a scheme aimed at introducing more part-time 20mph speed limits at rural primary schools where the national speed limit applies. The department will be "considering Brontė for that further enhanced speed reduction as part of the initiative".

If Brontė is deemed not suitable, the 40mph speed limit can be considered again.

The parents pointed out it is not always the driver's fault as they can legally travel on the road at 60mph but they want to know why the promised speed reduction has not happened.

Brontė principal, Elizabeth Davidson believes it has to be recognised that circumstances along the road have changed since the school was built.

“The area has become more built-up since the school opened. We are just so thankful that no child was hurt in this accident."

Parent Julie Andrews said traffic of 60mph passing the school is not suitable.

“I have noticed that even when I am coming home in the evenings [from the direction of Banbridge] and turning right into Ouley Road, that I have to put my indicator on as soon I come onto the straight part of the road.

“As I am not travelling near the speed limit as I am turning right to go home, I find that drivers are almost 'chomping at the bit' behind me to overtake as I am not going at the limit of 60mph.

“It is like I have to play a game with them as to whether I can get my indicator on before they overtake me.

“It can be quite intimidating at times," said Julie.

Mother-of-three Louise McQuaid who lives in another housing development opposite the school, said residents who live there do not let their children play near the road as it is too dangerous.

“There have been a few times were cars have hit the pillar entrance and even into one of my neighbour's gardens.

“We also make sure if the children are playing outside it is up towards the other end."

Kay says it has got to the point where she feels that "no-one is listening to us".

“We have heard so many stories about 'near misses' and even cases of cars hitting pillars.

“I know that before our houses were built, a car had crashed into what would have been my garden.

“I am very much coming at it from both sides, both as a parent of a child at the school and as a resident which is why we do not want temporary measures, but something permanent that will protect our children."

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