‘It will save lives’: Harrogate parents plea for 20mph zones outside schools

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Parents in Harrogate have again called on North Yorkshire Council to implement 20mph zones outside schools in the town.

The latest plea came during a meeting of the council's executive before councillors approved a review into how the authority sets speed limits in North Yorkshire.

Momentum has been building to set stricter speed limits with a petition asking for 20mph zones in west and south Harrogate garnering almost 1,000 signatures.

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In October, Harrogate and Knaresborough councillors passed a motion that asked the council to introduce 20mph zones in the district's towns and villages where a need has been identified.

Green Lane in HarrogateGreen Lane in Harrogate
Green Lane in Harrogate

Earlier this year there was an incident outside Ashville College where two children were hospitalised after being hit by a vehicle and campaigners were joined by head teachers last week to demand action on speed limits.

Hazel Peacock, from the Oatlands Road Safety and Active Travel Campaign, addressed senior councillors to say that lower speed limits are "urgently needed" for the safety of children walking to-and-from schools.

She said: "The proposal has strong support from the local community, leaders of 13 schools, local councillors and has been endorsed by the Harrogate and Knaresborough area constituency committee, showing there is an urgent need and desire for this change."

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Ms Peacock was joined by Jenny Marks, from the Pannal Ash Safe Streets Campaign, who referred to two recent incidents where pedestrians had been hit near schools.

She described what impact the collision outside Ashville has had on the two Rossett pupils.

She said: "It left two Year 10 boys with life-changing injuries. They are still undergoing treatment and are in-and-out of hospital."

Last year, campaigners applied to North Yorkshire County Council for the creation of a 20mph zone around Ashville College, Rossett High School, Harrogate Grammar School, Rossett Acre Primary School and Western Primary School but Ms Marks queried why the council had not responded to the application over seven months after it was submitted.

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She added: "The recent accidents have highlighted and intensified our position of significant collective concern for the safety of the 5,000 schoolchildren and for all those who use the network of roads around these schools on a daily basis."

In response, the council's Conservative executive member for transport and highways, Keane Duncan, claimed excessive speeds were "not a factor" in the recent collisions outside of schools.

Coun Duncan rejected calls for a 20mph pilot to begin in Harrogate and said any speed reduction measures would be brought in as part of wider approach to reduce speeding across North Yorkshire.

He said: "I believe effective action is in all cases better than urgent action."

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The council will draw up a comprehensive speed management strategy over the next six months that will seek to reduce speeding in the county's towns and rural roads.

The council has said this will generate a rolling pipeline of safety improvement schemes to cut speeding.

Coun Duncan confirmed that fresh traffic proposals for Otley Road and the Oatlands area will be unveiled later this year.

He added: "We take road safety seriously in these areas of Harrogate and across North Yorkshire and I'm confident that the council will continue to work in unity with councillors, residents and school representatives to deliver action that is genuinely effective."