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Calls for action on traffic calming around ‘downright dangerous’ new Pembrokeshire school

A local Assembly Member has met concerned parents at the school gates of Ysgol Caer Elen in Haverfordwest (Monday 25 March 2019), to hear their road safety issues.

Parents had asked her to come and witness ‘school run’ traffic chaos, as they drop and collect their children near the 40 miles per hour Withybush Road.

The new Welsh-medium school for three to 16-year-olds opened last September, and is located near the 50 miles per hour A40.

Joyce Watson AM, who lives in Haverfordwest, was told of an incident involving a mum collecting her child. She was told that, as the mother turned her car into the school, it was hit by an HGV, which span in the road then smashed into the school’s gates.

After meeting the parents, Mrs Watson said:

“Access to Ysgol Caer Elen is downright dangerous. I understand that no one was hurt in that incident, but it could have been fatal. I share parents’ concerns around safe access to the school, and I am seeking urgent action to resolve this.

“Pembrokeshire County Council should have introduced 20 miles per hour (MPH) speed limits around the school, like those recently added for safe access to Tasker Millard School.”

She told parents that she would put pressure on the council to calm traffic around the school entrance, as research shows that speed significantly increases the chance of injury in a collision.

After the meeting she wrote to Pembrokeshire Council and to the Welsh Government transport minister to pursue this.

She also raised the issue in the Senedd chamber with Business Minister Rebecca Evans (Tuesday 26 March 2019).

Mrs Watson asked the minister how planning authorities are implementing the guidance in the government’s Safe Routes to Trunk Road Schools programme.

Speaking in the National Assembly for Wales, Joyce Watson AM said:

“Yesterday I met parents outside the school gates at Ysgol Caer Elen in Haverfordwest.

“This is a brand new school which is just off the A40 on Withybush Road leading to the industrial estate, and which has a 40 miles per hour speed limit. Anyone who knows that stretch will appreciate just how busy and how fast that road is.

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“Frankly, I cannot believe Pembrokeshire Council has built there without prioritising child safety. There are no safety measures in place to speak of, despite parents’ complaints.

“To my mind, the need for a 20 mile per hour speed limit is obvious, along with other road calming measures, and also a safe place for children to cross that road.

“I am interested in understanding how local authorities can be so inconsistent in delivering road safety measures outside schools within their jurisdiction. I would like some engagement with Pembrokeshire County Council so that they take their responsibilities seriously before accidents happen outside school gates, not afterwards.

“So I think Pembrokeshire Council has very serious questions to answer as to what safety assessments were carried out both prior to planning and through the construction phase – and to what extent they considered and applied Welsh Government guidance.”

Business Minister Rebecca Evans thanked Mrs Watson for raising this in the chamber, and for raising it directly with the Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport and his officials. The minister said officials have been in touch with Pembrokeshire Council, and will update Mrs Watson on their discussions.

187 pedestrians under the age of 15 were injured by vehicles in 2017, according to the most recent statistics of pedestrian injuries by all types of vehicles in Wales. Of those 187 children, 40 were killed or seriously injured. 134 pedestrians of all ages were killed or seriously injured in 2017 in Wales. (StatsWales)

Speed significantly increases the chance of being injured in a collision. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) say that at 20mph there is a 1.5% chance of being fatally injured, compared to a 8% chance at 30mph. (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Fact Sheet)