Sat, 06 Oct 2018
THE Beatles have got the pedestrian crossing on Abbey Road – and now Newbury’s John Rankin Junior and Infant schools have got two on Valley Road, following a hard-fought campaign.
When the schools’ lollipop man Rodney Bracey retired in 2015 and a replacement for him could not be found, parent Yvonne Soulby decided to take action
With support from the school, governers, other parents and ward member and Newbury Town Council leader Adrian Edwards, she started lobbying West Berkshire Council to improve safety for children.
And their combined efforts paid off when the council agreed to put in the crossings.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, Mrs Soulby said: “It feels absolutely amazing to have not one, but two.
“I must say a big thank you to the school, councillor Edwards and the council for listening.”
In 2015, the NWN reported how Mr Bracey – and other school crossing patrol officers – were at risk of redundancy as part of the district council’s plan to save £10m.
Mr Edwards agreed to forfeit his councillor’s expenses increase that year and use the money to save Mr Bracey in the short-term instead.
The school then employed him directly for a few months before his decision to call it a day.
Mrs Soulby explained: “I went to the school three years ago with a proposal, with the support of councillor Edwards.
“We have seen so many near- misses on this road and reports of kids running across the road.
“This is when the council really started to listen and take our concerns on board.”
West Berkshire Council executive member for highways and transport Jeanette Clifford said: “I am really pleased to see it here.
“Schemes like this make all the difference to people’s lives. I’m really proud of it and glad we can make people happy.”
The school operations manager Rebecca Brophy said: “Yvonne came to me about a year ago and started talking about the campaign and wondered if there was anything the school could do.
“Anything that improves children’s safety is a priority, so we worked with West Berkshire Council’s highways team.
“They came into the school and held assemblies on road safety. They were brilliant.”
Mr Edwards said: “I’m absolutely delighted. Highways have done a terrific job.
“The safety of children is paramount.”
John Rankin Schools’ executive head Felix Rayner said: “We’re delighted with the new crossings. With two school sites, there are a lot of children needing to get to school safely.
“The council gave a lot of consideration before coming up with a scheme that works well for both schools and for all residents.”