Three-year fight to improve child road safety in Surrey village gets the green light

The three-year fight for a zebra crossing has finally ended as works get underway. A long-running battle to improve safety for children outside St Lawrence Junior School was given the green light last week.
Road notice for proposed school Zebra Crossing. (Photo: Chris Caulfield)Road notice for proposed school Zebra Crossing. (Photo: Chris Caulfield)
Road notice for proposed school Zebra Crossing. (Photo: Chris Caulfield)

Church Road in East Molesey will be closed for 24 hours a day for approximately one month from April 2, as works begin for a raised crossing. The measure would slow cars down and enhance safe routes for pedestrians towards the school.

An overwhelming 74 per cent of respondents supported a zebra crossing in the area in a Surrey County Council consultation back in July 2023. Of the 515 people who responded to the consultation, 63 per cent supported the zebra crossing and 35 per cent opposed it.

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One response said: “Due to countless near misses in terms of children after and before school being hit, this is an amazing resolution”.

Jim Davidson, parent and school governor, has been petitioning for safer roads and crossings around the school for over three years . He said: “This has been my life for three and a half years. It’s a legacy for the children for the future and the people of Molesley. It’s my passion.”

However, a final public consultation on residents living in the immediate area saw 125 out of 192 respondents rejecting the proposal, while 65 supported the road changes. Taking to Facebook, some locals complained that the number of objectors is almost double the number of supporters.

Councillor Steve Bax (Deputy Cabinet Member for Highways and Conservative at SCC and councillor for Molesey East) posted on Facebook: “It is a statutory requirement to consult but it isn’t a binding referendum. It’s up to myself and a senior highways officer to consider the responses and arguments and make the final decision.”

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Removing street parking had been continually raised as a reason to object to the scheme. A SCC officer said in the report: “Whilst the convenience of on street parking is undoubtedly important for residents, it is crucial to prioritise the safety and well-being of all our residents.”

On-street parking will still be available on Church Road and surrounding roads, that residents, visitors and delivery drivers can use.

Funding was also called into question as respondents claimed the crossing was “unjustifiably expensive” and “no evidence that it is needed”. The crossing will be funded by a separate pot of £3m dedicated to 32 other school road safety schemes to be delivered in three years. It is specifically for infrastructure improvements outside schools and is not used to maintain existing road networks.

Some respondents said the zebra crossing is not necessary as road safety improvements have been sufficient. A 20mph speed limit was implemented on various roads at the start of the school year (September 2023). But SCC is responding to the July consultation where 74% were in favour of a zebra crossing.

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Concerns were raised that a zebra crossing would increase congestion and air pollution but a SCC officer said the slight issues do not outweigh the benefits of the road crossing. The zebra crossing is also hoped to make walking and cycling to school more attractive and decrease the use of cars.

Shocked users commented their surprise that the road would be closed for a whole month for the zebra crossing- with one commenting: “Surely an April fool”.

Report: https://www.surreysays.co.uk/environment-and-infrastructure/church-road-molesey-zebra-crossing/results/churchroadzebrastatutoryconsultationreport.docx

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