A Whaley Bridge resident is calling for more parents to walk their children to school, after describing traffic congestion in the town as a “ticking time bomb”.
Chris Wilman said that unless something was done about the gridlock in the town centre at rush hour, casualties awaiting emergency services could die waiting for help to arrive.
The 54-year-old said last Monday afternoon, she witnessed the North West Air Ambulance land in a field near New Horwich Road, beating the land ambulance to an incident.
She added that using the air ambulance regularly was unsustainable as not only was it more costly than land ambulance call outs, it required a large area nearby to land.
Chris said that Whaley Bridge becomes congested with traffic twice daily on weekdays due in part to parents dropping off and picking up their children from the town’s two schools, Whaley Bridge Primary School, on Buxton Road, and Taxal and Fernilee CE Primary School, on Reddish Road.
Chris, of Orchard Road, said: “It’s catastrophic; it’s a ticking time bomb. Most of the school children seem to live within walking distance in Whaley Bridge. They could even walk through Memorial Park. It’s only going to get worse if the planning application for 107 houses on land off Macclesfield Road gets approved. What’s it going to take for the situation to change? People are going to die before help can get to them. It’s an absolute logjam. The congestion effectively traps hundreds of people in their homes should they need any of the emergency services assistance. We have a huge problem. The implications for people’s safety regarding all three emergency services call outs is dangerously high.”
Vicky Keen, headteacher of Taxal and Fernilee CE Primary, and Fay Walton, headteacher of Whaley Bridge Primary, issued a joint statement, saying: “Both schools actively promote walking, scooting or riding to school and have tried out a walking bus service to reduce congestion and promote healthy lifestyles. A significant number of parents choose to walk with their children to school and we both have before and after school care for working parents, which means that not all the children are picked up at home time.
“The main road through Whaley Bridge is very busy, even at times outside the school run. For example, on Tuesday evening at 5.10pm there was a very long queue waiting at the traffic lights at Horwich End. There are often parked cars on both sides of the road and frequently there are large lorries trying to get through. This may encourage cars to use Old Road to bypass congestion and this road is not suitable for a high volume of vehicles. Both schools are committed to supporting the community of Whaley Bridge and will work with outside agencies if the school run is causing traffic problems for the people who live here.”
East Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed that both the land ambulance and the air ambulance, which costs approximately £1,700 per call out, had been dispatched at the same time, as the casualty was described as critical.
A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council said: “There is always likely to be increased traffic around schools at the beginning and end of the school day. We are working with all schools to alleviate congestion by encouraging parents to consider alternatives to driving to school where at all possible.”