Stroud MP Neil Carmichael has been working with local campaigners to remove a 30mph road running directly through the middle of Chalford Hill School. His hard work has resulted in recognition from national road safety charity Brake and Direct Line Insurance. He has won their 'Parliamentarian of the Month award' for his campaign efforts and achievements to date.
The Chalford Hill School in Stroud, Gloucestershire, has a 30mph road running through it, separating classrooms and amenities on either side of the school. For more than 19 years students have been crossing the busy road to get to class. A traffic survey, commissioned by Gloucestershire County Council, found that on a typical school day the road is crossed 1,400 times.
Despite the obvious dangers, the road doesn't even have warning signs that children may cross and some drivers are oblivious that the road runs through a school. As a result, teachers have taken on the additional role of school crossing patrol officers, ensuring that children are accompanied across the road. While there have been no crashes yet, there have been near-misses, and the school and parents believe the situation needs to be urgently rectified.
Parents, children and teachers have been campaigning tirelessly for six years for the road to be closed to no avail. The Council had considered a speed limit review and the use of flashing lights in school opening times on other roads surrounding the school but had taken no action to address the road that cuts through the school. In April 2011 the school wrote to local MP Neil Carmichael.
Neil immediately wrote to the Department of Transport with an application for the closure of the road. This is now under urgent consideration and the school has been told that a decision will be made within five months.
Neil also wrote to Gareth Vine, from the Children and Young People Directorate at Gloucestershire County Council. Mr Vine responded saying that he was in support of the campaign. He commented that it was a long term aim of the council to move the school into one site, removing the threat of the road. They are now awaiting word back from the Department for Transport.
Neil also raised the campaign's profile by speaking out in the local media. In May 2011 he spoke to local newspapers and gave interviews on local radio stations to draw attention to the unacceptable danger facing these children. The campaign has since received widespread public support.
In the meantime, Chalford Hill School have held a meeting with the chair of governors, allowing parents and teachers to discuss health and safety concerns, interim solutions and an action plan should the road closure not go ahead.
Neil has vowed to continue fighting for the school until an acceptable outcome is achieved.
Over the past year Neil has also shown his commitment to road safety by working with the parishioners in Moreton Valence to support speed reductions through the village. He has met, and facilitated discussions between, the County Council and local residents. The matter is still ongoing but Neil has ensured the issue remains on the agenda.
Neil Carmichael MP said: "I am thrilled to have won the Brake Parliamentarian of the Month Award. Road safety is an issue that we cannot afford to neglect and is an issue that I am always happy to work on. It is always nice to be recognised by Brake but more importantly it is great to be able to support the work that Brake does across the country to make roads safer for everyone."
Julie Townsend, Brake's campaigns director, said: "Neil has been involved with a really important campaign. It is outrageous that vulnerable children are subjected to such high levels of risk on a daily basis and nothing has been done in 19 years to end this situation. This situation needs to be dealt with swiftly. Neil's decisive action has quickly drawn attention to the problem, and we are keen to recognise his efforts to protect these children from the dangers of traffic."