CHINGFORD: Fears over future of accident prevention (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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CHINGFORD: Fears over future of accident prevention
4:07pm Tuesday 23rd November 2010 in News
A MOTHER who watched in horror as her son was run over outside a school says road safety teaching must be protected from council cuts.
As pupils at Longshaw Primary in Longshaw Road, Chingford, called on drivers using nearby roads to slow down during an event on Tuesday, it emerged that the authority is planning to stop its accident prevention work in schools.
Unison say schools will be asked to take on the responsibility, but specialists within the council’s accident prevention unit fear the work may be sidelined.
The event at Longshaw, which was organised by charity BRAKE to mark Road Safety Week, had added meaning for Kathleen Sheehan, 28, of Connnigton Crescent, and her six-year-old son Sean Lacy.
In February this year, Miss Sheehan watched in horror as her son was hit by a passing car outside the school as he stepped out into the road to meet her.
She said: “It was horrific. I saw the car coming so I knew it was going to happen, but couldn’t do anything to stop it.
“He fell on to the bonnet and then under the car and was run over.
“it has been nine months since it happened and I still have flashbacks and nightmares.
“He is quite strong, but I haven’t got over the trauma of seeing my own child get run over.
Both of Sean’s collar bones were broken, as was his left shoulder blade.
His right leg, which was snapped in half, is still being held together by metal plates and he spent months in a wheelchair.
Sean’s lung burst during impact and he was blind for five days after the accident.
Unison say the council is scrapping visits to schools, which see specialist officers educate pupils on the dangers of crossing the road, to save money.
A number of jobs are expected to be lost and there is concern among the team that schools may not have adequate time, money or expertise.
But Miss Sheehan believes money should be found in the budget to protect children’s safety.
She said: “I think teaching accident prevention in schools is very important.
“When Sean started to recover, we kept our own scrap book and we went to the school to talk to the kids to try to make them a little bit more aware what does go on - to show them that this kind of thing could happen, if you don’t watch what you are doing.
“You can’t take risks when it comes to children, there has got to be something within the budget to provide this kind of thing “It is only when you go through it that you realise the importance of it. if I had never happened to me, I wouldn’t have given it that much thought.
“But now I have gone througn it, I realise that you do need to make sure children are aware of the dangers.”
Cllr Clyde Loakes, cabinet member for environment, said: "Huge central government cuts mean Waltham Forest Council has to save more than £65 million over the next four years. These cuts are going to affect every aspect of the Council’s work.
"Over the last three years the number of road traffic accidents in Waltham Forest has decreased significantly, due to the work of our highways design team and the Accident Prevention Unit.
"As part of a council-wide review of service provision we have reviewed the services provided by the Accident Prevention Unit.
"Our proposals are to integrate Road Safety into the Highways Project Team where we can focus on combining road safety with accident prevention designs on streets.
Road Safety Education, just one of the strands in this area will be provided by schools which will be encouraged to do more to deliver the road safety message.
"When schemes are developed schools, community groups and disability groups will be consulted to help address their specific issues and areas of concern."
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