Accident highlights safety fears

SAFETY procedures have been called into question after a mother and daughter were knocked over at a broken pedestrian crossing.

The incident happened just yards from Morpeth First School at the pelican crossing in Castle Bank when the lights were off earlier this month.

Despite the signals being down for two-and-half days, scant provision was made to see parents and children safely across the road.

Philippa Waldie was crossing with her three-year-old daughter Evie in her arms when the pair were struck by a cyclist at about 9.30am on Tuesday, June 11.

Miss Waldie, 26, who has recently given birth, injured her back and Evie banged her head on the pavement. The toddler was sick and was taken to Wansbeck Hospital with concussion.

Miss Waldie said: “We had just been waiting at the side of the road to cross. One car stopped and signalled us to go and a car coming the other way did the same so I picked Evie up and was walking across when we were suddenly knocked for six by the cyclist.

“We were both shaken up, but it could have been a lot worse. I had a baby four weeks ago and if I had him with me, he would have got the impact, or if this had happened when I was pregnant, it could have been a disaster.”

Ironically, Miss Waldie’s mother had noticed the lights were off earlier that morning and had stopped a police officer to tell them that something needed to be done to help people to cross.

But despite the accident being reported to both the police and Northumberland County Council, the crossing was still out of order the next day and no help was at hand.

“What is the priority of the police and the council around 9 o’clock in the morning if it is not the safety of the children of Morpeth?” said Miss Waldie.

“No one appeared to be acting in their interests and that cannot be right. After everything we had been through on the Tuesday, when I went down on Wednesday the lights were off and there was no one helping people to cross the road. What does it take?

“I understand that lights go off, but there should be signs, or temporary lights, or why not put an official there to protect the children? There should be some sort of health and safety procedure.”

Morpeth First School Headteacher Elaine Reay reported the faulty lights to the council.

Goosehill Private Nursery Deputy Manager Jan Clarke said: “I contacted the council, but to be honest I didn’t get much of a reaction. They said they couldn’t send a school crossing patrol because they don’t have enough and I didn’t really get any help at all.

“It is a concern because the traffic lights have failed a few times and children are starting to walk to school now and use the crossing.

“A lot of parents like to walk down with children, but if they feel they can’t cross safely then more will bring their cars, adding to congestion.”

Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee will write to Northumbria Police and the county council expressing concern and asking for details of safety procedures.

Coun David Clark said: “I was worried there was going to be an accident and then I heard about this, a woman being knocked over with a babe in arms. It really is bad. The response was disgraceful.”

A police spokesman said an officer attended the lights to direct traffic after the fault was reported at 3.08pm on Monday, June 10, and again at 8.18am the following day. At both times the council was informed.

He added: “At 5.11pm on Tuesday, June 11, police received a call from a woman informing us that she had emailed the council to complain about the traffic lights being out in Morpeth. She told officers that a pedestrian had been hit by a cyclist and she thought the two events were connected.”

A county council spokeswoman said: “Failure of the lights was reported to our contractor and they were repaired as soon as possible. We are looking into the matter further.”