Pedestrian crossing proposed for Newport after a year without a lollypop lady

A traffic light controlled puffin crossing is being proposed for the area outside Newport School in

A traffic light controlled puffin crossing is being proposed for the area outside Newport School in Barnstaple. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

A notorious school run road at Newport in Barnstaple is recommended to have a new signal-controlled puffin crossing after more than a year without a lollypop lady.

The site by Newport Community School Primary Academy has been without a crossing person since lollypop lady Helen Freeman quit in May 2018 after Devon County Council stopped paying her travel expenses.

When the North Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee (HATOC) meet on Thursday, October 31, councillors are recommended to approve a scheme to install a new signalised crossing on Landkey Road, at a cost of £80,913.

A puffin crossing is controlled by traffic lights that have sensors which will ensure the lights only return to green once the crossing is clear.

The role for a crossing patrol person has remained vacant, despite 'an extended period of recruitment', and in January 2019, an independent safeguarding review highlighted a school safety issue for pupils, adults and visitors arriving and departing.

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A report from Dave Black, Devon County Council's head of planning, transportation and environment report says to improve road safety and to support sustainable travel, a new pedestrian crossing facility should be installed.

He recommends the scheme be approved for construction and advertisement to both support school safety and to promote sustainable and healthy travel choices.

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Mr Black added: "Alternative locations were considered but these would not address the crossing demand and current safety issues for the school.

"Improved crossing facilities will enhance links between residential areas, schools other community facilities and the Barnstaple cycle network. This will have a positive effect on promoting healthy and sustainable travel within the community."

If approved, construction will take place between January to March 2020.

Before leaving her role, Helen Freeman, who travelled from Bideford to Barnstaple each day to do the job, said the council's decision to stop her travel expenses made the role 'financially unviable'.

She said the situation left her feeling 'devastated', having done the job for more than five years.

When she left, a county spokesman said: "To make it equitable and to comply with our business travel policy, a decision was taken with Trade Unions and patrols, to stop travel expenses for the cost of their commute, giving several months' notice of the decision."

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