Julie Hilling, MP for Bolton West, March 2011

julie_hilling_jpegBolton West MP Julie Hilling has won Brake and Direct Line's 'Parliamentarian of the Month Award' for her work in promoting pedestrian safety in her constituency.

In the UK in 2009, 70 children were mown down and killed while walking or cycling and 2,470 children were left with serious injuries[1]. Julie is working to prevent deaths and injuries like these in her constituency. Since her election to parliament in May 2010, Julie has been involved in three community road safety campaigns aimed at protecting vulnerable pedestrians, including school children.

Firstly, Julie gave her support to a resident led campaign for pedestrian guard rails next to a roundabout in Moss Bank Way, Bolton, after a spate of crashes. Julie wrote to the residents asking their views on the situation at the roundabout and was amazed by the level of public concern. More than 400 residents then joined together to demand action from Bolton Council, calling for barriers to protect pedestrians. Julie wrote out a letter for support of crash barriers to the site, unfortunately the council decided against the proposal of the barriers.

Then in June 2010 Julie was contacted by local campaigners who were concerned about the speed limit on the route from Lostock Lane to Chorley Road, Horwich. They were campaigning for the limit to be lowered from 50 mph to 40mph. In response, Julie went to see the road in question. She agreed that the speed limit was too high and traffic was too fast for safety. She urged officials at Bolton Council to lower the speed limit and put up more visible slow down signs. Although the speed limit hasn't been changed since the campaign speed limit signs have been moved to make them more visible to drivers.

In her third campaign since taking office, Julie took up the issue of children's safety near a local school. Concerned residents had contacted Julie for help; they wanted to make a dangerously narrow pavement safer for children to use on their way to The Gates Primary School. Parents voiced concerns that there isn't any protection between children and the traffic, and parents are unable to walk hand in hand with their children safely.

Julie has joined the campaign and, along with parents, teachers and residents, is calling for:

· an increase to the width of the pavement over the railway bridge;

· a pedestrian crossing near by to safeguard children and elderly residents;

· car parking restrictions on the road into the train station – currently parked cars on the pavement cause parents with prams to walk on the busy road.

Bolton Council has stated that they have found there to be few options for any improvements. However, this has not deterred Julie, who is determined to find a solution to protect her community. She has arranged a meeting with senior officials in Bolton Council's Highway Department and concerned residents to explore solutions.

Julie Hilling MP said: "There may not be an easy solution but that part of the road is very dangerous due to the narrow pavement; there are hundreds of mums and children coming and going and we really need to find a solution. What we do not want is for something terrible to happen before action is taken. I thank Brake for their recognition of these campaigns and their hard work protecting vulnerable road users."

Julie Townsend, Brake's campaigns director, said: "Julie is getting involved in some really important campaigns in her local area that aim to protect the most vulnerable road users, particularly children and families on foot. It is great to see an MP showing enthusiasm and commitment to road safety issues right from the outset. Traffic remains the biggest danger to children and young people, so it is wonderful that Julie is fighting so vigorously to ensure children can walk in safety in her constituency."

[1] Road Casualties Great Britain 2009, Department for Transport 2010 and Road Casualty Statistics 2009, Police Service for Northern Ireland, 2010

Tags: awards parliamentarian Kid's Walk road deaths pedestrians vulnerable road users serious injury