A WALK-OUT at a school that’s directly next to a dangerous 40mph road - where children regularly gamble with their lives - will take place this afternoon to raise awareness of the dangers reckless motorists pose to pupils.
Helen Handley, a governor at Oakhill Primary Academy, off Doncaster Road, Ardsley, has particular cause to highlight those dangers after her son Logan was the victim of a hit-and-run last year.
Logan, seven, thankfully just has scars from the incident - but the mental effects, and Helen’s anger at the lack of action taken by the local authority, have remained since.
Oakhill is the only school in the borough which is on a 40mph dual carriageway, and children, parents and the school crossing patrol - one of whom is soon set to retire from the role - take their lives into their hands every time they set foot on the road.
Campaigners have long stressed the need for traffic calming measures, with flashing 20mph signs planned to be put in place before the current school term still no closer to being installed.
The Chronicle was told that delays were due to staff turnover issues.
A speed camera was burnt out last August before being decommissioned.
Now, said Helen, there’s nothing to stop drivers who have been observed reaching speeds of up to 70mph.
“They use it like a motorway, even though there are those warning signs,” said the 42-year-old from nearby Stairfoot, whose main role as governor is to link with the local community.
“My son was knocked down and sent 20 feet down the road, and my husband who was there was dragged under the car. My son has scars on the back of his head - he’s all right now, but he’s traumatised even with the patrols.
“I don’t want to say we’re fighting a losing battle, but something really drastically needs to be done.
“When my little boy was knocked down, the council said unless there was a fatality nothing could be done.
“Everybody can see what’s going to happen - does there need to be a fatality?”
The signs are supposed to come from a £90,000 pilot for areas potentially missed by collision data.
Typically, areas flagged up as dangerous due to frequency or nature of collisions are dealt with on a ‘worst first’ basis.
The latest figures from the speed camera before it was destroyed show there were 81 offences last year and 91 in 2019, with only one collision within 200 metres of it between 2017 and 2019.
Residents have regularly campaigned for measures including flashing signs, average speed check cameras and more clear signage than small 40mph signs currently in place.
John Evans, an Ardsley resident who formed Speed Awareness Group Ardsley (SAGA), called the delays over the work ‘bitterly disappointing’.
“I’ve said before that it feels like Ardsley is the lost village of Barnsley, and it seems to be acceptable until the inevitable happens and someone gets killed or maimed,” he said.
Helen hopes the event, to be held at 2pm today with full support of local police and the school, will spark the attention that’s been sorely lacking through years of campaigning.
“If we can make them think, at least it’s raising awareness,” she added.
“It’s horrendous even with the crossing patrol.
“When he retires, we’re going to be stuck. Even when the speed camera was burnt out, we noticed a difference - it made people slow down.”