WaGCG : Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG)

Column 5th October 2022

Is it too much to ask to turn a Zebra into a Puffin?

I wrote a column in March this year about the need to change the pedestrian crossing at Fitzwaryn School in Wantage from a zebra crossing (with Belisha beacons) to a puffin crossing (with traffic lights).

As I mentioned at the time, pupils and staff often have near misses when cars don’t stop and traffic lights might make it safer.

This request has to go to the County Council and in April this year, as Chairman of Governors at Fitzwaryn, I raised it at the Wantage and Grove Traffic Advisory Committee.

This is a quarterly meeting at which County, District, Wantage and Grove Councillors meet with a Highways Officer and Police representative to discuss current issues and prioritise where any available resources should be used on roads and pavements in the area.

Six months later at another Traffic Advisory Committee meeting, it was reported that no budget or design resources had been identified for this project.

Yet the Wantage Eastern Link Road is getting built and when completed will move traffic around Wantage and along Mably Way to the Denchworth Road past Fitzwaryn School at a speed limit of 30 miles per hour.

Fitzwaryn School is a Special School for children and young people from 3 – 19 years old with Special Educational Needs.

It has been rated as Outstanding since 2005 and is always oversubscribed.

To paraphrase the Ofsted inspector at the latest inspection earlier this year:
The school is a happy place and pupils are well supported. They are taught to be safe in their relationships and in the community.

Safeguarding children and young people in all aspects of life has become a key aspect of society.

Yet the crossing directly outside the school is considered by pupils and staff to be dangerous and a risk to pupil safety.

I believe that we are failing in our duty of care to the pupils at Fitzwaryn if we don’t all push to get this crossing upgraded.

This doesn’t just affect Wantage and Grove. Pupils in the school come from many parts of Oxfordshire and neighbouring counties.

Many may arrive at school by school buses but all learn how to be safe in the community and have to cross the busy road outside the school on their journeys in and from the centre of Wantage.

Is it too much to ask to make this crossing safer to use?

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