Steve McCabe, MP for Birmingham Hall Green, March 2010

march2010Steve McCabe, MP for Birmingham Hall Green, has won Brake’s ‘Parliamentarian of the Month award’ sponsored by Direct Line. Steve is celebrating with local residents as their long term campaign to bring a pelican crossing to Bells Lane of Druids Health has finally paid off. On 10 March 2010, children attending the local school, Bells Farm Primary, were able to use their crossing for the first time to get to school.

Bells Lane is a busy arterial route between the M42 and the road to Kings Norton. It is also the location of Bells Farm Primary school’s front entrance. There have been numerous incidents and near misses on the road involving school children crossing to get to school. The problem came to a head during Christmas time in 2008 when an elderly resident was run over and killed.

The School had been campaigning for a crossing for years, with no success, despite the level of local support and clear evidence that it was needed. The lack of action from the council was causing serious concern that it was only a matter of time before yet another life would be stolen. Steve McCabe MP stepped in to see if he could help.

He made a number of representations to the Council to ask for a crossing to be installed, but yet again the plea was rejected due to funding restraints and the council’s perceived lack of demand for a crossing. In January 2009, in a bid to get the Council to listen, he took the unusual step of dressing up as a lollipop man along with Councillor Mike Leddy, to highlight the dangers that the children face when crossing Bells Lane. The protest drew media attention and a great deal of public support.

Soon after, the council suddenly announced that they had changed their minds and would provide the much needed crossing to the relief of local residents. The campaign, which had been running for ten years, was finally concluded with success.

Steve has already begun to address further road safety issues in his constituency. On 22 March Steve and his constituency office took to the streets gathering signatures for their petition to introduce 20mph limits outside the local Colemore Infants and Junior School.

Steve McCabe MP said:

“I am really honoured to be Brake’s ‘Parliamentarian of the Month’ - road safety is a top priority for me and too many children in Birmingham don’t have safe places to cross the road to get to school which is not good enough.

It was pretty drastic action to take to highlight the problem but I’m not prepared to wait until a child is killed before doing anything. I’m obviously delighted that we had such a good result at Bells Farm School but I won’t stop campaigning until all schools in my patch have safe crossings for kids to use.”

Cathy Keeler, Brake’s Deputy Chief Executive, said:

“Steve’s headline grabbing campaign methods clearly got the job done as well as entertaining many children on their way to school. However, the sad fact about this case is that a person died waiting for the introduction of this crossing. Similar stories are happening across the UK and it’s time local councils woke up to the needs of our most vulnerable road users.”

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