Schoolboy crash sparks call for action over traffic fears

Campaign after Horsham boy hit by car outside Forest school. Oliver Colombo with his parents Gail and Patricio. Pic Steve Robards SR1817278 SUS-180307-104333001
Campaign after Horsham boy hit by car outside Forest school. Oliver Colombo with his parents Gail and Patricio. Pic Steve Robards SR1817278 SUS-180307-104333001

A concerned parent has joined a battle to improve safety outside a Horsham school after his son was involved in a crash.

Oliver Colombo was left shaken and bruised after colliding with a car wing mirror as he crossed the road outside Forest School.

Forest School. Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Forest School. Photo courtesy of Google Maps

The 12-year-old pupil, who joined the school this year, was on his way home when the accident took place in Comptons Lane on June 21.

His worried father Patricio Colombo said his son was lucky he was not badly injured and has issued a desperate plea for more traffic calming measures to be introduced.

He said: “I just think this is a tragedy waiting to happen. I think there should be some speed restrictions to avoid a potential tragedy.”

Patricio said he would like to see measures such as speed bumps introduced.

Forest School has been campaigning for several years for more traffic calming measures along Comptons Lane.

Headteacher Siobhan Denning met with West Sussex County Council a few weeks before the incident and said a new zebra crossing and an extension to the cycle lane outside the school is being considered.

She said: “The school has been campaigning for traffic-calming measures and a bus lay-by for several years.

“As a result of the pressure we as a school have been exerting, I met with a representative from WSCC Highways a fortnight ago – before this incident – who informed me that they were consulting on extending the cycle path along Comptons Lane and installing a zebra crossing outside the school.

“Sadly, I was told that they anticipate opposition from some residents of Comptons Lane, which means that this work is not assured. If however, the consultation proves successful, I am told this work will begin in 2020.”

She added: “We have also been campaigning for a bus lay-by (similar to that at Millais School). Some preparatory work has already been done to facilitate this – widening the school entrance / extending the car park – however, as with the works above, we have not been promised any definite outcome.

“I am grateful to HDC councillor, Andrew Baldwin who has worked hard on behalf of the school, as a result of which there is now improved signage outside the school. He also found funding for another bike shelter, meaning that more boys will hopefully cycle to school, thereby diminishing the congestion with cars at the end of the school day.

“Thankfully, in the 11 years of my Headship, we have had very few such incidents.

“We work hard with our pupils in assemblies and lessons to promote road safety and the majority of our boys are sensible and keep themselves safe.”

The council confirmed it was looking into improvements.

A council spokesman said: “We were sorry to learn of the incident on Comptons Lane outside The Forest School on June 21.

“Up until the year ending 31 May 2018 we have not received any reports of other pupil-related incidents on the roads adjacent to The Forest School. But the county council has been made aware of concerns surrounding the traffic build-up outside the schools in the area both in the morning and afternoon when youngsters are either going to or leaving school.

“The Forest School is already surrounded by a School Safety Zone which incorporates an advisory 20mph limit for drivers.

“We are currently considering a proposal to improve provision for cyclists to support the school as part of plans for the 2019/20 Annual Delivery Programme of highway improvements.

“We are also investigating the potential for a controlled crossing to support both Heron Way and Kingslea schools.

“We consider a significant number of highway improvements each year and selection of schemes for inclusion in the 2019/2020 Annual Delivery Programme of the schemes will be subject to feasibility, budget constraints and prioritisation alongside other proposals.”