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Calls to include temporary 20mph speed limits outside all rural primary schools

Department asked to extend programme after announcing plans at seven primary schools

There have been calls for 20mph temporary speed limits to be installed outside all rural primary schools.

The decision by the Department for Infrastructure to introduce the new signals outside seven Northern Ireland schools this week has prompted debate on the issue.

Schools in Lurgan and Banbridge are among those which will see signals installed which will limit speeds to 20mph in morning and afternoon, when pupils are arriving at and leaving school for the day.

The initiative – to come into effect next week – has been welcomed.

But it is one which many believe should be extended to include all schools in the interest of pupil safety.

One of those who has added his voice to that lobby is SDLP Councillor Pete Byrne.

And the Newry, Mourne and Down District councillor is calling on the Department to step up to the mark and deliver.

He believes schools in south Armagh are “particularly vulnerable” and should also benefit from temporary speed limits put in place.

“While it is welcome that the Department of Infrastructure is continuing to consult on the introduction of the 20mph part-time restrictions outside some rural schools, there is no reason why this cannot become the norm across the North,” insisted Councillor Byrne.

“This announcement is part of DfI’s Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy 2020, which has committed to introducing speed restrictions outside selected schools where the national speed limit applies.

“My frustration with this policy is how the Department can select one primary school over another when it is clear that all children are vulnerable during pick up times regardless of location.

“South Armagh schools are particularly vulnerable. The Slieve Gullion DEA is one of the most deprived wards in the North and the Department itself recognises in its strategy that children living in a most deprived area are five times more likely to be injured in a collision than a child living in a least deprived area.

“In recent times, I have lobbied for enhanced traffic calming measures outside Newtownhamilton Primary School, but the fundamental issue outside this school and many other rural schools is speed.

“Clonalig Primary School was one of the first to benefit from a 20mph restriction and it has had a positive impact.

“The Department spends significant time and resources educating children on road safety.

“While this is important, I would like to see a more practical approach to address speeding outside rural schools.”

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