PUPILS have been risking their lives trying to cross a main road during rush hours to get to school – because the pedestrian crossing lights are not working properly.
Sixth former at The Piggott School, 16-year-old Sophie Mundy, was so worried she started a petition which by Tuesday had been signed by 260 people.
Charvil residents say the lights near the A4 junction with Park View Drive South have been working only some of the time since a vehicle hit a nearby lamp post towards the end of August. Replacement temporary lights have also failed – thanks to vandals.
The petition alleged, “Without these traffic lights functioning effectively, Wokingham Borough Council is taking an enormous gamble with the lives of hundreds of children”.
Sophie added that she hoped the council would resolve the problem urgently. Cars drove “ridiculously fast down this section of road” and that walking to school she had seen many road accidents.
“No parent should have to face the issue of their child’s safety on their journey to school due to Wokingham’s negligence of ensuring these traffic lights are in good working order,” she added.
A parent said that Year 7 children who started at The Piggott earlier this month had been seen “taking quite a lot of risk crossing the road.” As a result, many children were now driven to school.
And it’s not just the secondary school that was affected: Charvil Primary School families also use the crossing.
There was uproar on Monday when Wokingham Borough Council referred to a 12-week delay before the permanent crossing lights could be fixed.
But on Tuesday Charvil’s borough councillor, Emma Hobbs, said: “I’ve been told they will start on Monday, September 28 to fix the main lights properly. It will involve closing part of the A4.
“I don’t know how long it will take but they will get it done as quickly as possible. It’s an improvement on 12 weeks.”
On Monday a Wokingham Borough Council spokesperson said a temporary cabling fix had reinstated the permanent crossing lights.
“We are aware that the A4 Bath Road is a much-used route by local school children and as such [we] will check that the lights are still working tomorrow morning, ready for the school rush.
“If for any reason the temporary fix does not work, we will put temporary lights back in place. We will be monitoring this twice daily for school users.
“We are also investigating the fastest way to permanently reconnect the power supply to the crossing, which will require a full or partial road closure due to the excavation of the highway.
“As the Bath Road is a significant strategic route, the earliest opportunity for this was subject to a 12-week advance street works notice requirement, due to several other works going on both on the A4 and nearby.”
Cllr Hobbs said she had stopped the traffic to help children cross the road on Monday because there were no lights.
She said there were problems on Monday night: “At 10pm I saw the permanent crossing lights working. I’m told they failed later that night so the temporary lights were put on.”
However those lights were interfered with by unknown people and failed, she said. The permanent lights were working again in time for children going to school.
Cllr Hobbs said people interfering with the temporary lights “deserve to electrocute themselves.” Addressing them she said: “You are causing a problem that could end up with someone being killed.”