Council backlash over crash cases

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Blackpool has the highest rate of child road casualties close to schools outside of London, according to new figures released today.

Excluding the capital, the resort has the highest rates of casualties including deaths, serious injuries and slight injuries within 500m of schools, with 164 child collisions between 2011 and 2013 – an annual rate of one casualty per 464 people.

Left to right: Donald Hunt, BAFAM president, Robert Rheubottom, Brian Watkins and Terry Godbert, BAFAM chairman

Left to right: Donald Hunt, BAFAM president, Robert Rheubottom, Brian Watkins and Terry Godbert, BAFAM chairman

The figures, taken in and out of term time and including child and adult casualties, were produced by Axa Insurance and the Road Safety Analysis Organisation and revealed the resort to be in the UK’s top 10 towns and cities for all collisions within 500m of schools.

However, Coun John Jones, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said accidents had significantly reduced.

He said: “Collisions on Blackpool’s roads have reduced significantly, from 629 in between October 2012 and September 2013 to 582 in the last year.

“Therefore it’s extremely disappointing that anyone is looking to accentuate the negative using out of date statistics from between 2011 and 2013.

“Comparing numbers of collisions near schools by local authority area has no bearing on the level of road safety in the area.

“In a densely populated area – and there is nowhere more so than Blackpool – many schools are near busy main roads you are likely to see more collisions.

“Where schools are more rural there will be fewer – it’s obvious.”

Terry Godbert, chairman of Blackpool and Fylde Advanced Motorists (BAFAM) said: “What people have a habit of doing is they do not obey road signs or stick to speed limits.

“Part of the problem is where people park near schools – parents want to get as close as possible but it leads to accidents as the area is so congested.

“Some people are also at fault by not using pedestrian crossings and lollipop ladies, trying to cross busy roads.”

Earlier this year two-year-old Lewis Murgatroyd was knocked unconscious near Highfield Humanities College in February after being hit by a van.

In March last year, seven-year-old Kadon Chapman was knocked down close to Unity Academy, with a petition launched to improve safety measures by parents.

According to Axa’s Local Road Safety Index, figures taken between 2005 and 2013 showed the worst roads to be close to Devonshire Primary School with 36 child collisions, South Shore Academy with 31 incidents and Waterloo Primary School with 27 child collisions.

The safest roads appeared to be near rural schools, including Weeton Primary and Singleton Primary School, each with no accidents.

Nationally, the overall number of road incidents within 500m of schools has increased in the past three years to an average of more than 200 every week in the UK.