No crossing patrol for school pupils’ return

TWO busy schools will be left without a crossing patrol when pupils return next week.

Morpeth’s Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools have written to parents to warn them that there will be no patrol officer in Mitford Road from Monday.

The Herald has previously reported concerns about the problem after the former lollypop man took up a post elsewhere following changes to county-council travel allowances.

The schools have been making temporary arrangements with staff to oversee the road crossing, but warned that such provision would only be made until half-term.

Northumberland County Council said it has been carrying out interviews for the post this week, but no date has yet been set for when the job could be taken up.

Town councillor Alison Byard, who has been calling for action to address the problem, said: “It is brilliant news that the council is interviewing people and I would be delighted to see someone in post, but the council has to appoint somebody first, then they would have to be trained and CRB checked so it could take a bit of time. I would hope the schools could make some arrangements if it really is a temporary situation because that area is a real safety concern.”

The Stobhill member says she has seen first-hand the problems of hundreds of children crossing the busy road and is amazed that no accident has happened to date, even when a crossing patrol has been in place.

“It is horrible to think of children crossing that road without any help,” she said.

“The school has been sending out a teacher, but they can’t be there all the time.

“I drive down that road often at 8.30am and the children are crossing all over the road. It is bad enough when there is a patrol there, but now they are trying to cross at Dogger Bank and all along the road.

“It’s busy with cars going to and from home, as well as dropping children off at school, and the buses are coming down the narrow road as well. It is like an obstacle course and it is a very dangerous place to cross.

“Some of the children are only nine years old and there are two schools so there are a lot of them.

“I’m amazed that no child has been hurt. It is a terrible situation.”

Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee has already written to the county council, urging a swift response.

However, Chairman Ken Brown said he is concerned that not enough has been done to address the problem.

“The schools did put in a temporary solution and the county council has advertised the job, but I don’t think it has made the most of the advertising opportunities,” he said.

“There are two schools there so there are significant numbers of children trying to cross the road. It is very busy and not to have anyone there is a huge cause for concern.

“I wouldn’t like to suggest town councillors volunteer, but perhaps that is an option.”