A SCHOOL is no closer to victory in its fight for a pedestrian crossing on a busy Henley road after five years of campaigning.
Staff and parents of pupils at Sacred Heart Primary say Greys Road is dangerous for pedestrians and want to make it safer for children and residents to cross.
But Oxfordshire County Council says the road’s accident record doesn’t justify a crossing and there is no guarantee of the necessary funding, which could be up to £50,000.
The road is also used by children walking to and from Valley Road and Trinity primaries and Gillotts School as well as residents on the Gainsborough estate.
Karen Edwards, headteacher of Sacred Heart, said the road put the lives of pedestrians at risk.
“There are so many cars parked at the side of the road that very often vehicles that are travelling down it are forced on to the pavement, including buses.
“The only crossing is right down at the bottom by the main Reading Road. You’ve got children walking to school who need to cross the road and there’s no safe place for them to do so. They have to rely on the goodwill and patience of motorists.”
Hannah Wilson, whose son Roman, seven, is a pupil at the school, called Greys Road “absolutely lethal”.
She said: “Everyone drives too fast and there is nowhere to cross. It is an accident waiting to happen and I feel something has to be done.” The issue was raised at the latest meeting of Henley Town Council’s traffic advisory committee.
Chairwoman Laila Meachin said: “I have my heart in my mouth every time I walk my girls down that road.
“We could do with at least three crossings on Greys Road — at the bottom, at the turning into Elizabeth Road and just past the Bird in Hand pub.”
But Keith Stenning, area steward for the county council’s highways department, said: “There is no accident history outside any of these locations so we are dealing with perception, not fact. Accidents don’t wait to happen, they happen or they don’t.”
Councillor Stephan Gawrysiak replied: “I want to challenge this idea of perception. If people are crossing with fear 40 times a day that is an awful lot of fear that people are carrying around and that’s a lot of damage and should be taken in to account.
“Let’s have a slightly more satisfactory view than there has to be a number of accidents.”
Mayor Elizabeth Hodgkin said: “My worry is where we would place it. Up the hill is not suitable for a crossing but that’s where most people cross as they park behind the scout hut.
“I would like to see more consultation work done as £30,000 to £50,000 is a lot of money and we must get it right.”
Town clerk Mike Kennedy said: “People should not be parking at the scout hut. We have told the school there is no parking for them there and we ought to be enforcing it much more strongly.”
Cllr Gawrysiak added: “A crossing opposite the scout hut is dangerous. We should discourage parking there. We should ask Sacred Heart to send a letter to parents.”
Mr Stenning said there was “absolutely no chance” of providing a crossing directly opposite the scout hut.
Councillors voted in principle in favour of installing a crossing at the point between the bus stop and the Takhar Wine Mart.
A traffic survey will now be carried out to determine which type of crossing should be chosen.
However, speaking to the Standard this week, Mr Stenning said the source of the funding for a crossing had not been determined.
He added: “The committee has voted in favour of the principle of a crossing but there are still a number of issues to work through, including community need, desire and design.
“There is still design and feasibility work to do before the county council can make a decision on proceeding and then local consultation.”
Meanwhile, schools will be encouraged to recruit traffic regulation officers, or “lollipop” people. They will also be asked to turn on school crossing signs with flashing lights at peak times in a bid to slow drivers.
The committee also discussed possible solutions to ease congestion at the bottom of Greys Road. One option was to widen the road below the Sacracen’s Head pub.
Cllr Meachin said: “Every day buses and HGVs mount the pavement because the road is too narrow and there are a whole lot of cars parked on the left-hand side.
“Re-engineering the road completely would cost an absolute fortune but there are areas of grass verge which could be used a bit more for parking.
“That would create half-and-half parking, half on the road and half on the blocked paving with dropped kerbs. If we also changed a section to residents’ parking that would force commuters to use Station Road car park.”
Cllr Meachin proposed writing to residents to ask whether they would commit to buying parking permits.
She said: “Presumably it is not acceptable to have cars driving on to pavements and if they are it is the responsibility of the county council to do something about it.”
Mr Stenning replied: “The key intervention criterion for the council is an accident history.”
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