Kennedy ‘walk’ plan is ‘all talk’

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Lord Mayor Darryn Causby has challenged DRD Minister Danny Kennedy to back the call for a school patrol officer at the Hart Memorial PS.

The call comes after Mr Kennedy’s highly-publicised visit to the school on the last week of the summer term when he joined the children on their ‘Walk to School’ project. The Hart children were the winners of the province-wide competition – ‘Walk to School Week’ – which promotes a healthy lifestyle.

The Mayor commented, “Mr Kennedy and the education authority should promote the full gambit of health and safety and provide a crossing patrol without delay.

“It’s hypocritical to encourage more children to walk to school and yet deny them basic safety. The Hart had three crossings at various points up until four years ago, when the then Southern Education and Library Board scrapped the lot. Now we have the sight of Mr Kennedy stepping out with the children to encourage more of them to walk to school, thus increasing the danger.

“It’s hardly consistent encouraging pupils to walk to school where there is no safe crossing point, particularly from the Brownstown-Edgarstown areas. The Hart is the only school in the town without a crossing patrol or a permanent toucan crossing.

“Senior highs like Portadown College and Craigavon Senior High have them. And I note that on the other side of town a toucan crossing has been provided at Bocombra, which is right and proper.”

Mr Causby and David Simpson recently led a protest outside the school and followed it up with a meeting at the education authority’s Armagh office. The Lord Mayor added, “Officers quoted the criteria, and didn’t hold up much hope. We are meeting with them again before the start of the new school year. It is inconceivable that a primary school with 405 pupils should be denied a safe crossing.”

The Education Authority has confirmed the meeting with Mr Causby and Mr Simpson. A decision will be made early in the autumn term.