Even before the opening of the new Marlborough St Mary’s Primary School three and a bit years ago the need for some way for the children (and their parents) to cross George Lane in safety at the Van Diemen’s path end of the school was clearly apparent and of high priority. George Lane is one of Marlborough’s East-West ‘artery’ routes, carrying probably more through traffic than does the High Street, a road that is quite narrow, cars and lorries still go quickly but it’s there to be crossed, in safety, by many schoolchildren.
Someone – maybe a local resident, but someone who has taken an objection to the presumed loss of the lay-by in front of the former Police Station (and lack of consultation regarding the creation of the crossing?) has started a campaign. Why? We don’t know as we have no idea who is organising posters and flyers but a guess is that it’s someone who uses this area, particularly the lay-by as a car park on a regular basis. Whether the installation of the crossing will mean that the lay-by goes, isn’t clear yet. Marlborough.news has asked but as yet no clarification has been received.
Marlborough St Mary’s is a large Primary School catering for more than 400 children. Some cross George Lane at the Western end, by Ducks Walk / Figgins Lane but many others do so at the end of the Van Diemen’s path.
The School campaigned for a crossing at the Van Diemen’s end before it opened, with Wiltshire Councillor Nick Fogg telling marlborough.news “The situation in George Lane is certainly an accident waiting to happen.”
Crossings aren’t cheap. The Town Council doesn’t have a sufficiently large budget, it’s too much for the CATG (Community Area Transport Group) as well, so the school, Councils and Wiltshire Councillors lobbied for funding from other sources.
Councillor Jane Davies, representing presently the West Selkley division (shortly to be merged into the Marlborough West division as from the 6 May elections), who also is the Portfolio Holder for Education and SEND within the Wiltshire Council leadership group managed to arrange for funding to be secured from the ‘Taking Action on Journeys to School’ fund, which is designed to encourage walking and cycling to school as well as improving child safety.
So work on this new crossing is due to take place during the Summer, likely in July when schools are out for their long holiday and usage will be low.
Hopefully the installation of this new crossing will reduce the risk of accidents and negate the fear (expressed above) by Cllr Fogg. “We hope it will reduce the number of parents who drive their children to school because they are concerned the walking route is currently unsafe.” stated Cllr Davies when asked by marlborough.news.
But what price safety? Is the (possible?) loss of a car parking space more important than the safety of young school children? It would appear that some in the area are of that belief, hence this campaign. Even though the flyers posted around direct passers-by to complain to the Town Clerk at Marlborough, it’s nothing to do with the Town Council. Contrary to what’s stated in the flyers this isn’t a new or ‘Stealth Planning’ issue – it’s been discussed, openly since 2017, well before the School was built.