Parents present pelican petition

Parents, children and teachers from Chingford Church of England School on the steps on Waltham Forest Town Hall
Parents, children and teachers from Chingford Church of England School on the steps on Waltham Forest Town Hall

Council pledges to introduce 20mph zone but dashes hopes of new crossing, reports James Cracknell

Parents presented a petition to Waltham Forest Council calling for a pelican crossing outside their children’s school – but were told installing one was “not in the council’s gift”.

The petition for a series of road safety measures to be introduced in Kings Road, outside Chingford Church of England Primary School, had been signed by more than 4,000 people. It was launched following the retirement of much-loved lollipop man Stan Silverston, who had kept children safe outside the school for 21 years. He has not been replaced by the council.

As well as a pelican crossing, petitioner Jason Dickinson told a full council meeting at Waltham Forest Town Hall last month that he also wanted a 20mph zone to slow traffic. Although there is an existing zebra crossing and a “raised table” to slow traffic has recently been installed, the school has a split site and young children often have to cross several times a day to attend different lessons.

Jason said: “Our main ask is a pelican crossing. We are worried it may never materialise. You are expecting children to play ‘chicken’ crossing the road in front of lorries.”

Clyde Loakes, the council’s deputy leader, thanked Jason and the other parents and children for raising the issue, but said he was unable to give them what they wanted. “It is frightening to think you have young people here fearful because their neighbours are driving too fast, with little regard for human life.

“I share your disappointment. There are certain things the council can control and certain things the council can’t control – pelican crossings are in the gift of Transport for London, not us. We will continue to lobby for that funding.”

While a motion was passed at the meeting which pledged to introduce a 20mph zone, Cllr Loakes lamented that local authorities did not have the power to enforce speed limits. He was also criticised by opposition Conservative councillors for axing school crossing patrols and instead spending tens of thousands of pounds on a failed court case defending the council’s fortnightly publication of Waltham Forest News.