MP joins Dewsbury pupils in a bid to make their walk to school safer

Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood joined pupils in the town to hear first-hand about the problems they experience on their journeys to school, including dangerous driving and pavement parking.

By Staff Reporter
Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 6:00 am
Dom Jacques (Living Streets), Mark Eastwood MP and pupils from Pentland Infant and Nursery School in Dewsbury
Dom Jacques (Living Streets), Mark Eastwood MP and pupils from Pentland Infant and Nursery School in Dewsbury

Mr Eastwood helped pupils and staff from Pentland Infant and Nursery School carry out a school route audit, which aimed to identify improvements that could be made to local streets to enable more families to walk to school.

The audit was led by Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking.

A generation ago, 70 per cent of primary school aged children walked to school. Now it is less than half.

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The Government has a target to increase the number of children walking to school to 55 per cent by 2025. Living Streets is working with schools to help reverse the decline in walking rates.

Pentland Infant and Nursery School currently takes part in WOW – the walk to school challenge from Living Streets.

WOW schools typically see walking rates increase by 23 per cent, with a 30 per cent reduction in cars driving to the school gates.

Mr Eastwood said: “It was great to meet pupils and hear about the fantastic work the school is doing with Living Streets to encourage their pupils to get more active, helping them stay healthy and happy whilst making school gates safer and doing their bit to reduce air pollution.”

Jessie Davidson, schools coordinator at Living Streets, said: “Walking to school is a fantastic opportunity for children to get active and socialise, all while helping reduce road danger, congestion and air pollution.

"However, there are many reasons that families don’t feel safe or comfortable walking to school. Speeding vehicles, cars parked on pavements and unsafe crossings can all act as barriers.

"This audit is the first step in identifying what could be done to help more families swap the school run for a school walk.”

Pat Barker, deputy head teacher at Pentland Infant and Nursery School, said: “The children are delighted to be working with Living Streets.

"They feel passionate about keeping everyone safe at Pentland.

"They went out as pupil ambassadors and saw first-hand how motorists do not always respect pedestrians.

"These children were either six or seven years old; they had more ideas about road safety than many grown-ups.”

The group of pupils on the audit helped to assess the environment and suggest changes that could be made.

One of the pupils, Bilal, said: “I helped (Jessie) measure the space between the wall and the car on the pavement.

"It left a tiny space. A pushchair could not get through. This made me feel sad.”

Another pupil, Bin-Yameen, reported how he felt happy to see a car driving down Pentland Road slowly, saying: “He followed the rules, but he didn’t when he parked on the pavement. This made me feel angry.”

The walk to school project is being delivered by Living Streets, in partnership with West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

A report from the audit will be written up and presented to Kirklees Council to consider possible improvements to the routes to school.