Children’s route to Galashiels schools labelled a ‘deathtrap’

Abbotford Road, near the St Peter's School area, in Galashiels.
Abbotford Road, near the St Peter's School area, in Galashiels.

Calls are being made to tackle dangerous driving and congestion around two of Galashiels’ largest schools amid fears the issue is an accident waiting to happen.

That plea for action comes from a Galashiels councillor fearful for the safety of pupils walking to St Peter’s Primary School and Galashiels Academy.

Sandy Aitchison has described the the roads between the two schools as a “deathtrap”.

Abbotsford Road and Church Street have been highlighted as particular areas of concern for Mr Aitchison as they are used by a large portion of the secondary school’s 800-plus students and primary’s 250 children.

“That road is a deathtrap,” he said. “It’s dreadful.

“We are going to have to look at that in terms of safer routes to school.

“Students going to Gala Academy are going one way and primary children are going the other way to St Peter’s Primary School. It is almost inevitable that some have to step off the pavement.”

He added that Church Street’s single pavement is particularly dangerous between 8.15am and 9am and from 3pm to 3.30pm while pupils are arriving and leaving the school buildings in Abbotsford Road and Elm Row.

Mr Aitchison is working with Scottish Borders Council officers to organise a traffic survey but is also calling for parents and regular road users to do their part.

“The council has done lots of things over the years, with flashing lights on the road and the installation of ‘twenty’s plenty’ signs and speed limits, but, in my view and the view of other parents and carers taking children to school, some drivers are flouting the speed limit,” he said.

“The stupid thing is that most of the traffic on that road heading west from Abbotsford Road along Church Street is local traffic. The drivers are very familiar with the fact there are children on the road at these times.

“Most cars are people who use this road daily.

“The council, and indeed Police Scotland, can only do so much.

“They cannot be there every day, and even when they are there, the message soon gets about that the police are around and everybody behaves themselves.”

And its not just a problem in Galashiels.

Mr Aitchison believes the issue is region-wide and can only be solved if parents learn to lead by example.

“It is true at nearly every school in the Borders,” he added. “People simply will not reduce speeds around schools despite the fact it would add a mere few seconds to their journey time.

“This is also true of the jagged no-parking lines outside schools.

“The cars that stop there are the cars of parents blatantly flouting the regulations, and yet these parents expect their children to behave themselves and obey the teachers’ instruction once they cross the entrance gate. Is that hypocrisy or what?”

Galashiels community police constable James Harrison added: “It’s an ongoing issue around a lot of schools in Galashiels.

“It’s just the increasing number of people using cars to drop people off. We need to work with the council with regards to tackling it.”