‘Take notice before tragedy strikes’ plea

The Loughbrickland to Rathfriland Road at the entrance to Bronte Primary School �Edward Byrne Photography INBL1541-207EB
The Loughbrickland to Rathfriland Road at the entrance to Bronte Primary School �Edward Byrne Photography INBL1541-207EB

Campaigners anxious about the 60mph speed limit outside Bronte Primary School and Nursery Unit are waiting for Transport NI to set a date to meet them, following an invitation issued two weeks ago.

The school sits along a national speed limit route on the Ballinaskeagh Road between Rathfriland and Loughbrickland, but parents have described the 60mph limit outside the school gates as ‘outrageous’.

Campaigners have challenged the decision several times but have been told there is not enough development in the area to meet the criteria for a review.

Councillor Glenn Barr who has been working with angry parents and teachers, is disappointed Transport NI - having agreed to meet campaigners - has not as yet set a date.

Councillor Barr said: “I asked Transport NI to come and see for themselves the situation when parents are bringing kids in and out of school and the traffic is flying past. It will also give parents opportunity to directly relay their fears.

“They have said they are happy to come, but I contacted them two weeks ago to ask when would be suitable and as yet they haven’t set a date. I contacted them another two times since, but nothing.”

Parents however want quick action, with one local mum, Julie Andrews, saying Transport NI must sit up and take notice before tragedy strikes. The mother-of-four said it is ‘totally unacceptable’ to have speeding traffic so close to where hundreds of young children attend school.

She added: “Does a child have to be hit by a car before something is done?”

The campaign was stepped up two weeks ago following a ‘near miss’ in front of the school gates.

Parent Helen Elliott was turning into the school entrance when a car tried to overtake, meeting oncoming traffic and only just avoiding a crash.

Principal Elizabeth Davidson said: “Very few schools have a 60mph speed limit on the roads beside them and certainly the rest of the schools in Banbridge do not have to deal with this difficulty.

“While a number of measures have been introduced since the school first opened 15 years ago, traffic is still not slowing down.

“There has been more and more development around the school which has led to more children walking to and from school.

“The housing is across the road so it means that children have to cross the road to get to school.”

A response from Transport NI said that the location already benefits from flashing warning signs, but would investigate if any other measures would be appropriate.

“We have not yet had the opportunity to do in the time frame since your request.

“This includes carrying out a survey at this location to determine the relative priority of this school on the temporary 20mph speed limits at schools programmes.

“Resources for such work are committed in the current financial year and as you will appreciate prioritisation is necessary as demand far exceeds the resources available and those sites most in need, that is sites with higher speeds and traffic volumes and existing collision history, will be treated earlier in the programme.”