SCHOOLS are to have safety zones established around them to deter speeding traffic, paid for from a special fund created in this year’s Swindon Council budget.
Haydonleigh, Peatmoor and Chiseldon primary schools are to receive a share of £30,000 from a pot of money created from left over funds from last year.
School safety zones involve putting speed restrictions around the school as well as markings on the road and are designed to ensure children are safer around the schools.
The headteacher of Haydonleigh welcomed the news, despite being unaware of the funding. Frances Billange said: “Anything which helps to make children safer is obviously a good thing. My school is rapidly expanding and by 2018/19 we could have more than 600 pupils.
“We are working very hard on the walk to school programme so there will be more of our children on the streets, so making the route to school a less dangerous place is something that we certainly welcome.”
However, a political row is brewing over the choice of schools, with allegations they have been chosen for political gain. The Labour Group say all three schools are in Conservative wards and with elections coming up they are concerned funds are being used incorrectly, something the Tories deny.
Labour Group Leader Coun Jim Grant (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney) said: “There is a long list of schools which want a safety zone and we would question why it is these have been selected.
“Some other schools have been waiting for a long time but it is the ones in these wards which are potentially under threat at the next election which have been chosen.
“It seems they are helping their own at the expense of others around the town and one wonders why this is?”
“We do not begrudge the schools who have the money, we just want to know why they have been selected.”
A list of more than 40 schools was developed several years ago listing the needs of each school, taking into account risk factors and number of accidents.
Council Leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick) said: “Simply put the three we have chosen are top of the list so that is why they have been selected.
“About two or three years ago we put a list together and now they have reached the top. I have to admit I am a governor at Haydonleigh so I have an interest but that has played no part.
“We would like to be able to give money to help all the schools to improve child safety but we do not have the funds.”