Lives ‘put at risk’ outside primary school

Some of the school children pictured with head teacher Caroline Garland outside Catsfield School
Some of the school children pictured with head teacher Caroline Garland outside Catsfield School

A mother-of-two believes children’s lives ‘are put at risk every day as they enter and leave’ Catsfield Primary School, near Battle.

Julie Hunter, a school governor, has written to East Sussex County Council to ask for traffic calming measures to be implemented on the approach to the school, in Church Road, Catsfield, following a number of ‘near misses’ between pedestrians and cars.

She said: “The lives of the children, and their families, are put at risk every day as they enter and leave the school.

“The national speed limit applies on the approach to the school – a country lane frequently used as a rat run by cars, vans and lorries – and only changes to a 30mph limit approximately 20 metres from the school entrance, which is located on a blind bend.

“It is impossible to see what’s coming before you step out onto the road from the school. There have been numerous near misses.

“As I am sure you will understand, the safety of our children is of paramount importance. We seem to be one of the only schools in East Sussex without traffic calming measures in place and simply cannot understand how this work is not considered a top priority by ESCC.”

Headteacher of Catsfield Primary School Caroline Garland – who joined in September – has asked for 30mph signs to be implemented before motorists get to the bottom of the hill in Church Road.

She said: “Currently, gravity is playing its part as motorists are not thinking about slowing until they’ve reached the bottom of the hill.

“It is not until they (motorists) come over the hill that they see 30mph signs and by that stage they have little time to reduce their speed.

“We just want to make it more obvious to drivers that they are approaching a school as it is not currently clear.”

Catsfield Primary School and Catsfield Parish Council have previously lobbied East Sussex County Council Highways to implement traffic calming measures.

East Sussex County Council agreed to allocate £8,500 for improvements under the Community Match scheme two years ago – with matching funding from the school and parish council.

The children at the school, along with the parent-teacher association, managed to raise £2,500 in 2016 through a variety of different fundraising events, with the remainder being supplied by Catsfield Parish Council.

However, Miss Garland said little progress has been made since East Sussex County Council told the school a plan was being put in place in October 2017.

She added: “It’s not just the children who are being put at danger with the road. At Christmas time, we have elderly visitors crossing the road at a slower speed. So many people could be affected by the speed along this road.

“Someone ultimately could be seriously hurt or worse. That is a frightening thought outside a school.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said the council was working with the parish council and school to progress the scheme.

They added: “As we only have very limited funds for road safety schemes, we have to focus our resources on the areas of greatest need.

“Based on a range of criteria including the road safety record at this location, we are not able to prioritise improvements on this section of road.

“However, we have allocated £8,500 for improvements there under the Community Match scheme, with match funding provided by the parish council.

“We are currently working on a design for the scheme, which could include a build-out of the pavement outside the school and an extension of the 30mph speed limit.

“We are not able to give a timescale at present but we’ll continue to work with the parish council and the school to progress this scheme as quickly as possible.”