The headteachers of Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College and St Vincent’s Catholic Primary schools are calling for urgent action to improve safety at a crossing in Altrincham after a teenage girl was seriously injured in a collision earlier this week.
The Year 8 student, who attends Blessed Thomas Holford (BTH), is currently being treated for serious head injuries after colliding with a Range Rover shortly before 3pm on Monday.
She was crossing Oakfield Road at a point used daily by hundreds of pupils from BTH and other local schools.
The crossing area features a railing on either side of the road and a dropped kerb, but the road itself is unmarked with no signage to suggest that schoolchildren may be crossing.
It used to be patrolled by a lollipop man or woman but that service stopped a number of months ago, during which time teachers in hi-vis jackets have stepped in to help during busy times of the day.
Monday’s incident comes 15 years after an 11-year-old schoolgirl, also a BTH pupil, died after a collision with a car on the same road. The tragic death of Anna Law was later recorded as being an “accidental death” by a coroner.
Now John Cornally MBE, Executive Headteacher at BTH, has called for the crossing to be turned into a pelican crossing, with traffic calming measures and improved railings added to the road.
He said: “Every morning and afternoon hundreds of children from our school and St Vincent’s Primary School cross this very busy road. Our school staff regularly support children crossing this road in the afternoon.
“This serious accident requires significant changes to how this is managed in the future and our discussions with the Council will include a pelican crossing, traffic calming measures and better railings along the path.
“In addition, we will continue to press for a permanent school crossing patrol as this area is a high priority for this service. The Headteacher at St Vincent’s is giving her support in getting these measures in place.”
Steve Thompson, manager of National Tyres and Autocare which overlooks the site of the latest incident, said it had been “an accident waiting to happen”.
He had been a witness to the 2007 collision and said he had grown increasingly nervous about the lack of a lollipop patrol at the crossing in recent months.
He told us: “Teachers in hi-vis tops have been helping kids to cross the road but it shouldn’t be their responsibility, and you always get a few stragglers when the teachers are no longer there.
“It was only a few days ago that I saw one young lad stood in the middle of the road with his arms outstretched pretending to stop the traffic.
“Cars come round the corner and they treat it like a racetrack. They’re not expecting to see schoolkids crossing the road.”
Thompson said he had tried to raise the issue with Trafford Council but had had no success.
“I’ve tried to contact the council but everyone I spoke to said ‘you need to speak to a different department’, and then you leave a voicemail and hear nothing back.”
He said the crossing needed to urgently be converted into a zebra crossing with traffic lights, with other calming measures in place on the road to lower the speed of traffic.
A petition calling for a lollipop patrol to be “reinstated” at the crossing has already garnered over 1,500 signatures.
It’s understood however that the reason for the lack of a patrol at the crossing in recent months is because the lollipop person has been off sick, and no other local patrols were available to step in.
A spokesperson for Trafford Council said: “This was a terrible incident and our heartfelt thoughts go to the girl involved in the collision and to all of her family.
“Unfortunately, the school crossing patrol officer on Oakfield Road has been absent since 8 March. We are hopeful they will be able to return to the crossing at the start of the new school term.
“When we have a member of staff unavailable for a crossing point, we make every effort to cover the absence. This has not been possible due to recruitment difficulties. In addition, our highways officers are now looking at whether additional road safety measures need to be put in place after liaising with the police.”