‘Terrified’ parents issue plea for safer crossings near Clapton school

Parents and children at the Theydon and Southwold Road junction. Photograph: Noora Mykkanen

Parents have demanded safer crossings near a Clapton school after close calls with drivers that have left them “terrified”.

Frustrated families from Southwold Primary School have pleaded with the Town Hall to install zebra crossings and a lollipop patrol.

For the past five years, parents have campaigned for a crossing at the junction of Southwold and Theydon roads – so far without success.

According to a council assessment in January last year, the location did not meet the relevant criteria.

Parents told the Citizen that Mount Pleasant Hill also needs a crossing, as roughly half of the children and parents travel to school from that direction.

Dad John West said: “The council says there haven’t been enough accidents here. Well, I don’t want to wait for an accident for there to be a crossing.

“It’s only a matter of time before something very nasty happens.”

The lack of road safety is having an impact on children’s independence, campaigners agreed.

Ruth Jenkins doesn’t feel comfortable letting her nine-year-old son cross the road alone, while West said he wouldn’t risk it when his daughter is older due to illegal parking blocking pedestrians’ views and bad driving.

“As a parent, I’m terrified,” he said.

“To even cross the road you need to go between the cars and look right and left. And the quality of driving is a real problem, but what we need are structural solutions.”

Mount Pleasant Hill. Photograph: Noora Mykkanen

Parents said both locations attract drivers at higher speeds due to being on and at the bottom of a hill, while the industrial park facing the entrance to the school street means lorries, trucks and vans are “thundering down” the road.

Not having a zebra crossing and a lollipop person like many other neighbouring schools feels “unfair”, Jenkins said.

She took the parents’ demands to a council meeting on 24 January, where she asked the Town Hall to “safeguard” children and Millfields Park users by installing a crossing across Southwold Road.

Worrying incidents happen “every day” as children walk alone to school or to the playground in the park, she explained.

“You get vans parked up here obscuring the view. It’s dangerous, even when drivers try to be kind.”

Eileen, who didn’t give her surname, is “really upset” about the lack of road safety. She wants to get a handheld camera to gather evidence of speeding.

“Even when my son cycles to school and I’m right behind him, it feels dangerous,” she said.

She urged the council to install a permanent speed camera to make Mount Pleasant Hill a genuine 20mph zone, plus a crossing with a lollipop person.

“It’s just anxiety-provoking every day,” she added.

To make matters worse, parents claim a 10-year-old boy was hit and injured by a car on Theydon Road just before half term.

The incident has not been verified by the police, but parents said emergency services, including police officers, attended the scene.

Hackney Council’s transport chief Cllr Mete Coban said: “The safety of children is of vital importance to the council and it underpins the work that we carry out on our roads.

“The council is responsible for more than 800 roads in the borough and must prioritise measures based on objective criteria.

“We have previously assessed this location and at the time it did not meet the criteria for a school crossing patrol or a zebra crossing.

“However, the council recognises the concerns of parents and we are currently looking at whether alternative funding can be found for a crossing at this location.

“The council will reach out to parents once funding has been secured.”