Reduced speed limit to begin at six primaries

Reduced speed limit to begin at six primaries

8 September 2021

SIX local schools feature in the latest batch to have dedicated 20mph zones implemented outside their premises to significantly increase road safety.

Stormont infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon announced that Tyrella’s St Joseph’s Primary School, St Caolan’s Primary School in Darragh Cross, Ballynahinch’s St Patrick’s PS, Dundrum’s Sacred Heart, Annsborough Integrated and Newcastle primary schools are among 106 schools across the province to feature in the scheme.

Local politicians, including South Down MLA Colin McGrath, Strangford MLA Peter Weir, Slieve Croob councillors Roísín Howell and Cathy Mason and Portaferry councillor Joe Boyle, have welcomed the move.

Mr Mr McGrath said Mrs Mallon’s decision will increase the number of temporary 20mph zones outside schools across the province to 209.

“This is fantastic news and an initiative that we can all get behind,” he said. 

“This process was started some time ago and is representative of the roads minister’s care for students, staff and road users in ensuring all of our schools are safe areas.”

Mr McGrath is delighted that four schools in his constituency — Newcastle Primary, Dundrum’s Sacred Heart Primary, St Joseph’s Primary in Tyrella and Annsborough Integrated will all benefit from the 20mph zone scheme.

However, he said the news will be disappointing to some schools who have yet to see their base on the list for new 20mph zones which is understandable. But he hopes that this is simply the next step in a process to ensuring all of schools are safe zones. 

Mr McGrath said he plans to continue engaging with Mrs Mallon on the issue and hopes that other political parties will weigh in with their support for the very important initiative and “give credit where it is due”.

He suggested that such support could potentially unlock additional funding from Stormont’s finance minister so more 20mph schemes can be implemented.

“I look forward to seeing how this process continues and the schools that will hopefully benefit in the future, for the safety of children, staff and all road users.” Mr McGrath added.

Mr Weir has welcomed the new 20mph speed zones at St Patrick’s Primary in Ballynahinch and St Caolan’s in Darragh Cross.

“This is good news and will be welcomed by pupils, teachers and parents alike,” he said. “Recent sad events have underlined the continued dangers of road accidents, with young children being particularly at risk to impact at speed. 

“The danger is clearly very acute at schools with both a significant volume of traffic pupils, with risk 

further increased by children sometimes emerging from behind parked cars. The roads minister’s latest announcement could be critical in saving lives.”

Mr Weir said road safety and active travel for school children was an important issue that he had previously worked on with Mrs Mallon when he was in charge of the education portfolio.

He added: “It is good to see this being brought to fruition. While there is still  more work to be done to extend this to other schools, this latest announcement marks a positive step forward for both these school communities and is to be heartily welcomed.”

Cllrs Howell and Mason say they are delighted that new 20mph zones will be placed on the approach to Annsborough Integrated Primary and Sacred Heart PS.

“Slowing traffic and ensuring pupil safety around schools is absolutely essential,” said Cllr Howell.

“The safety of all our children needs to continue to be a priority for the Department for Infrastructure.”

Cllr Mason said the local councillors have lobbied the government department, PSNI and the district’s Policing and Community Safety Partnership to implement road safety measures at these areas and are pleased they have been included in the latest roll out. But she said it is disappointing that other schools have not been included. 

“We will continue to lobby the Department to see many more schools within the constituency shortlisted for this scheme and will continue to urge the infrastructure minister to widen the scheme out to all primary schools,” she added.

Cllr Boyle said theSDLP has made road safety a top priority, with Minister Mallon “getting the job done” by making sure that over 200 schools will benefit from the new 20mph zones to make the areas outside them much safer for everyone.

He added: “I am delighted that the SDLP’s investment and leadership in government is making a real difference to people’s lives. 

“Parents, children, school staff and indeed all road users in the Strangford constituency will be looking forward to seeing these new lights and signs erected outside our schools soon.”