This is the chaotic scene outside Fylde’s biggest school, where new bus bays have been set up – just weeks after two 11-year-olds were badly injured in an horrific accident at exactly the same spot.
The pupils were struck by a passing car and were hospitalised.
Despite a new drive to improve safety outside Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College, both teachers and parents have been angered by the new bus bays which they fear could present a risk to the safety of the school’s 1,800 pupils.
The mother of one of the boys injured in the accident outside the school on September 30 said: “This is madness – an absolute joke.”
Headteacher Philip Wood’s anger at the situation has been compounded by the fact the first the school knew about the changes on Albany Road – directly outside the school –was after they had been agreed and approved.
The school has already received an apology from County Hall for what officials there admit was a lack of consultation.
Parents have joined Mr Wood in condemning the changes, which follow the re-routing of Blackpool Transport’s No 11 service away from Worsley Road and other roads through Ansdell.
The alterations involve the introduction of bus stop boxes directly across from each other and entail students having to cross busy Albany Road to catch the Lytham-bound service, which formerly stopped in Worsley Road.
They were approved by the county council, as the highways authority, although officials have stressed that the changes are simply being trialled and have expressed the hope that they will actually reduce congestion on a stretch of road which has been notorious for drivers parking on double yellow lines.
But Mr Wood fears that the new markings will increase congestion and lead to greater danger for students, particularly at the end of the school day.
The headteacher, who stepped up the bid for increased safety outside the school after the accident on September 30, said: “I’m very concerned about the potential impact on the safety of students in light of the change of bus stops. This road is by far the busier of the two outside school and more students than ever will have to cross the busy road and have to wait alongside it for their bus.
“Of course, we are trying to mitigate the effects of this by changing our bus duty patterns, but I am disappointed that due to the lack of consultation and notification the improvements that I have suggested to Lancashire County Council so far, such as making use of the school’s bus bay or re-siting the crossing patrol, have not been considered.”
The mother of one of the boys injured in the accident outside the school said: “This is madness – an absolute joke.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard the bus markings were going in. Fortunately, my son will recover from his injuries in time, but another child or children may not be so lucky as this new layout on the road is potentially a fatal accident waiting to happen.
“The school is constantly campaigning for the safety of its students and the people who made this decision have shown total disrespect for this. “My son has only been back at school after six weeks off recovering from the injuries he received. I was hoping to let him walk home from school again sometime in the new year and get his independence back again but due to this new layout I cannot allow him to do this.”
Another parent who contacted Fylde MP Mark Menzies on the matter said: “I am concerned, astounded even, to see that two bus stops have been placed immediately
outside of the drop-off area
on Albany Road.
“The fact that they have been painted across double yellow lines alone tells you that this is an extremely dangerous area to site these stops.
“The decision approved by the council is wholly irresponsible and I request you to demand an urgent review of this matter.”
Another parent said in an e-mail to the County Council: “I cannot understand why a decision would be made that would further increase the risk of accidents or injuries involving the children using the (bus) service.
“I can only assume those making the decisions do not place the safety of children very highly on their list of priorities.”
Mike Kirby, Lancashire County Council’s director of transport and environment, confirmed the new bays were part of a trial.
He said: “We needed to assist Blackpool Transport to find new sites for stops to accommodate the change of route, and part of the reason for siting them alongside the traffic island outside the school is that there are existing double yellow lines that can be enforced if necessary to deter inappropriate parking.
“We’re currently trialling the new locations before deciding whether to make them permanent, however experience suggests long bus stop markings may go some way to alleviate the existing problem of parents parking inappropriately and ease congestion outside the school gates.”
Blackpool Transport spokesman Bob Mason said: “The decision about where to site the stops is a joint one involving the highway authority, the police and the service operator and it was felt that this was the best location in the circumstances.
“We did look at using the school’s bus lay-by and drop-off point but it would have meant buses being stuck behind other vehicles waiting for pupils and that isn’t feasible for a scheduled service.”
A county council spokesman confirmed that an apology over lack of consultation had been made to Mr Wood, who, in tandem with students, has been working with officials of the County Council’s Safer Travel team to improve road safety outside the school, particularly after the accident earlier this term.
“Local residents were consulted as a matter of course but the school was not and we are sorry about that,” said the spokesman.
County Councillor Tim Ashton, whose ward covers the school and is a former road supremo at County Hall, said: “It’s unfortunate the school was not consulted and we are sorry about that.
“The council is a big organisation and it seems the road safety people and those responsible for these changes weren’t in touch with each other.
“The county’s director of transport and environment has given an assurance that is a temporary measure designed to judge the effect of the new markings on congestion and I assure the school that I will keep a very close eye on the situation and get involved as and when required.”