Missed opportunity to secure school crossing

Parents from Towcester Primary school are petitioning to keep lollipop lady, Bet Lowe.
Parents from Towcester Primary school are petitioning to keep lollipop lady, Bet Lowe.
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A critic has said public art is being put before a safe walk to school after a plan for 90 new Towcester homes was given outline approval.

South Northants Council’s planning committee last week approved a hybrid application – agreeing the principle of the houses and giving full permission to partly demolish and rearrange buildings on the Burcote Road Industrial Estate.

Towcester vox pop on paying for prescriptions.Martin Johns.'121127M-B162

Towcester vox pop on paying for prescriptions.Martin Johns.'121127M-B162

In their report, council officers listed a variety of public amenities developer Blackrock Property Fund must make a contribution towards – including public transport, education and off-site sports facilities.

However, Towcester’s Liberal Democrat district councillor Martin Johns said the council has missed an opportunity to secure the future of a nearby crossing patrol, while at the same time recommending £4,500 be spent on public art.

Northamptonshire County Council has ceased funding for crossing patrols in the county but has agreed to continuing supporting them by acting as their employer if communities stump up the cash.

Last year Lib Dem Lisa Samiotis secured a seat on the district council on the back of her campaign to save the Richmond Road service, which serves children and parents walking to schools and nurseries in the area including Towcester Primary School in Islington Road.

The patrol is currently funded by a combination of parent’s fund raising, Towcester Town Council and part of a £7,500 county council discretionary fund controlled by Towcester Lib Dem Chris Lofts. Cars parked along Richmond Road often block the view of the zebra crossing and several near misses have been reported.

Mr Johns said: “It was suggested some of that money for infrastructure should be spent to support the crossing patrol on the road, which leads to this development. That seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

“We have £4,500 for public art and various monies for public transport, schools and various other things, but no contribution towards a crossing patrol.

“And Wood Burcote may get another 200-odd homes in addition to the southern extension – it would have been good to set some money aside for crossing patrols against that.

“I certainly feel there was an opportunity there to perhaps resolve the crossing patrol issue.”

An SNC spokesman said requests to support the patrol could still be considered but added: “Even if SNC wanted the developer to make a contribution towards a crossing patrol, it could not require this as it would not comply with government guidance in respect of developer contributions.”