Causby taking Hart campaign to the top

First Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Super Council, Darryn Causby. INPT13-220.
First Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Super Council, Darryn Causby. INPT13-220.

Lord Mayor Darryn Causby is fearful that a child could be “injured or worse” in the absence of a school patrol officer at the Hart Memorial Primary School.

Mr Causby met up with the Education Authority’s schools transport manager Dale Hanna outside the school at 8.30 on Tuesday morning to further the fight for a patrol officer for the only school in town without one – “but afterwards I felt far from confident of the outcome”.

He added, “Of course, Mr Hanna has to adhere to the criteria, and if any action is taken, it won’t be until the new school years starts in September – and then the red tape and bureaucracy will start again. Frankly, the criteria policies are totally wrong.

He added, “I was surprised that the authority includes the number of children not accompanied by a responsible adult to see them across the road among the criteria. But this is a classic chicken and egg situation. If there’s no officer, parents will do the needful.

“I know of parents who go to work late to safeguard their children’s safety, so it’s a false statistic.”

He added, “Almost 300 vehicles an hour drive past the Hart, which has 405 pupils – so it’s a no brainer. Parents and staff are worried about it and we’re determined to win this one.

“There were three patrols at various points up until about three years ago when a survey was carried out. They were all removed in one fell swoop. A case of saving money rather than saving lives.

“High schools like Killicomaine and Portadown College have patrols, and outside Craigavon High School there is a toucan or pelican crossing, and that would suffice at the Hart. But we’ll await the September findings.”

A fortnight ago, children and politicians blocked Charles Street, the main road outside the Hart, for a few minutes in protest at the continued absence of a patrol officer.

The view of parents was summed up by Lindsay Buckley – “There were three patrols at one stage – at the school gates, the West Street roundabout and at Brownstown Road – so there must be a need for at least one nowadays.”

The school staff are also known to be behind the campaign, and they have held discussions with Mr Hanna.