Fury over new bus bays

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Parents of pupils at a Fylde coast school today told of their fury after new bus bays were set up just weeks after two 11-year-olds were badly injured in an horrifying accident at exactly the same spot.

The pupils were struck by a passing car and were hospitalised.

Despite a new drive to improve safety outside Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College, both teachers and parents have been angered by the new bus bays, which they fear could present a risk to the safety of the school’s 1,800 pupils.

The mother of one of the boys injured in the accident outside the school on September 30 said: “This is madness – an absolute joke.”

Headteacher Philip Wood’s anger at the situation has been compounded by the fact the first the school knew about the changes on Albany Road – directly outside the school – was after they had been agreed and approved.

The school has already received an apology from County Hall for what officials admit was a lack of consultation.

Parents have joined Mr Wood in condemning the changes, which follow the re-routing of Blackpool Transport’s No 11 service away from Worsley Road and other roads through Ansdell.

The alterations involve the introduction of bus stop boxes directly across from each other, and entail students having to cross busy Albany Road to catch the Lytham-bound service, which previously stopped in Worsley Road.

They were approved by the county council, as the highways authority, although officials have stressed that the changes are simply being trialled, and have expressed the hope that they will actually reduce congestion on a stretch of road which has been notorious for drivers parking on double yellow lines.

But Mr Wood fears the new markings will increase congestion and lead to greater danger for students, particularly at the end of the school day.

The headteacher said: “I’m very concerned about the potential impact on the safety of students in light of the change of bus stops.”

Another parent said in an e-mail to the County Council: “I cannot understand why a decision would be made that would further increase the risk of accidents or injuries involving the children using the (bus) service.”

Mike Kirby, Lancashire County Council’s director of transport and environment, confirmed the new bays were part of a trial.

He said: “We needed to assist Blackpool Transport to find new sites for stops to accommodate the change of route, and part of the reason for siting them alongside the traffic island outside the school is that there are existing double yellow lines that can be enforced if necessary to deter inappropriate parking.”

Blackpool Transport spokesman Bob Mason said: “The decision about where to site the stops is a joint one involving the highway authority, the police and the service operator, and it was felt that this was the best location in the circumstances.”

A county council spokesman confirmed that an apology over lack of consultation had been made to Mr Wood, who, in tandem with students, has been working with officials of the County Council’s Safer Travel team to improve road safety outside the school, particularly after the accident earlier this term.

“Local residents were consulted as a matter of course, but the school was not and we are sorry about that,” he said.