Campaigners’ request indicates road safety concerns

NEW INFORMATION which shows that Angus Council officials have raised safety concerns about the proposed new school for Hospitalfield further boosts the case for a government call in, according to campaigners.

The Muirfield Action Group (MAG) has obtained e-mails through a freedom of information request which show the council’s roads department pointed out that at peak times it will be hard to keep nearby roads clear.

The group, which has long campaigned against the merger of Muirfield and Timmergreens primaries, says this shows the new £8 million site will not be safe for children having to cross the busy Westway road.

And they claim it backs up their request for the Scottish Government to review Angus Council’s decision to press ahead with the new school in the grounds of Hospitalfield House.

In one e-mail from roads department staff to the school’s project manager, the council worker says that when drop-off areas for the school are full, meaning traffic problems are transferred to the road, it could “lead to a number of difficulties resulting in unsafe pedestrian movement and general traffic congestion.”

He adds that no design of internal arrangements would keep roads next to a school of that size clear and that the impact would be “unacceptably high given the nature of the road along with the volumes and type of traffic regularly using the route.”

Other documents show an estimated 8,500 vehicles use the Westway every day with 8.4 per cent of them being HGVs.

Now MAG are claiming that number could be set to rise due the building of the Asda store which will expand the nearby Westway Retail Park.

And Ewan Smith, a parent from MAG, believes a road safety plan should have been put in place and finalised during the consultation process and before councillors voted through the proposal.

He stated: “The council should have been looking at the possibilities before these plans went to a vote at the council meeting.

“They should have made it clear then how they were going to make the roads safe and come up with a final detailed proposals during the consultation given the amount of anxiety in the community over children having to cross the Westway to get to school.”

“You can’t vote to build a school then see if it will be safe. It should be the other way around.”

A spokeswoman for Angus Council explained that independent consultants had been appointed to provide advice abut the safety of the site.

And she added that it was found the Hospitalfield site would be best for traffic arrangements.

She said: “To address the various traffic and transport points raised during the initial site assessment process the council engaged a firm of leading independent transportation consultants to provide a technical report of each of the potential sites.

“The consultant’s advice is that the Hospitalfield site provides the best solution in relation to on-site traffic management arrangements, pedestrian access and is predicted to have the least impact on the local road network.

“As has been previously stated a further full transport assessment will be produced for submission with the planning application for the development.”

Councillors approved the plans for the new school at a full council meeting last month and now the Scottish Government must formally approve the scheme.

Call in requests must be submitted by Wednesday and a decision will be made by the education minister by August 2.