Action has been demanded to make a school crossing area in Chichester safer in the wake of a tragic accident which left a mum trapped under a lorry.
Questions have been raised as to why Whyke Road, where the 37-year-old woman was dragged under the wheels of a skip lorry, no longer has a lollipop lady, and what safety measures can now be put in place to prevent it happening again.
The mum of two was crossing the road at its junction with Cleveland Road at 9am on Thursday to take her daughters to nearby Rumboldswhyke Infants School; she bravely pushed them to safety before becoming entangled in the lorry’s wheel. She is now recovering in hospital.
Headteacher Fiona Sayce said: “The accident that occurred on Thursday was a terrible shock and it was particularly distressing that so many children and their families witnessed it.
“This accident has again prompted calls for a crossing patrol. The school has been liaising with the local authority for the last two years – in that time the crossing has been reassessed and the governors were assured in a letter from Pieter Montyn, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, that Whyke Road would be reviewed this academic year.
“I was informed last Friday that the assessment will now take place after half term.”
West Sussex County Council advertised for a crossing patrol person in August 2010 for Rumboldswhyke school, saying they were keen to fill the position as soon as possible, but when asked this week they could not explain why one had not been put in place since then.
WSCC cabinet member for highways and transport Pieter Montyn was also unable to explain why, and refused to comment on the incident.
A statement from the council said: “There is not a school crossing patrol at the school but it is on a list of those to be assessed against the national criteria. In light of the accident this is being brought forward and will take place shortly after the half-term break.
“When school crossing patrol staff leave or retire we do carry out a site assessment to establish whether it still meets the national criteria.”
School governor David Siggs said: “It was a priority and will remain a priority, and it will have an added impetus after the accident on Thursday.
“We shall press for better, something has got to come out of this now. It is a dangerous place to cross and we have to do something about it. I cannot remember when they stopped it, I think they were evaluating the whole state of lollipop ladies and gentleman.”
Chichester district councillor, and former governor at the school, Alan Chaplin said: “18 months ago we had discussions in the governors meetings about the lollipop ladies and my understanding was there were difficulties with the school finding a new one.
“The school I can tell you is very safety-conscious. They pay very close attention to safety, whether on the school premises or outside the school premises.”
Mrs Sayce was full of praise for her employees at the school. “Staff came together to support distraught parents, children and each other. The governors and I are very proud of them as they tried to make the day as normal as possible under very abnormal circumstances,” she added.
“We are also very grateful for the support received from the local authority as well as our school nurse and primary mental health worker.
“We handed out information that may help parents understand what emotions they and their children might experience in the days and weeks ahead. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”