Routes for Shortstown school children are either “unsafe” or present “a myriad of hazards” a borough councillor has said.
Councillor Leigh Coombs (Lib Dem, Shortstown) used a short video to demonstrate to Full Council (7 February) the options for school children walking or cycling to Bedford Academy.
The councillor said: “The Shortstown Crossing petition, backed by 109 residents, is not just a collection of signatures, but a collective plea for the safety of our children and the peace of mind for those in Shortstown and Kingsbrook.
“Last September, as a new school term began, I was approached by parents with a genuine fear for their children’s safety. [This was] about the A421 exit slip road – a barrier between home and Bedford Academy.
“I requested a formal reassessment of this route to school from the council,” he said.
“The findings were stark – the route was deemed unsafe.
“The alternative route proposed is not a solution, Old Harrowden Road and Bumpy Lane in their current state are riddled with floods, lack proper lighting, and present a myriad of hazards that our residents must navigate daily.
“Imagine, if you will, children arriving at school with mud-soaked shoes and clothes, not from play, but from the necessity of traversing an inadequate path.
“Picture cyclists, our children, facing punctured tyres regularly, not because of the occasional mishap but due to a neglected route.
“And consider the unease felt by all as they pass through a secluded underpass littered with beer cans and unwatched,” he said.
The councillors voted to collaborate with National Highways or the council’s Highways Department to look to install a safe pedestrian crossing on the A421 exit slip, and also to prioritise the upgrading of the old Harrowden Road and Bumpy Lane route with “suitable paving, adequate lighting, efficient drainage and the installation of CCTV”.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter