Youngsters made an impassioned plea to councillors to improve road safety around their Huddersfield primary school.
Five children aged between seven and 10 led a deputation from Spring Grove Junior, Infant and Nursery School to a full meeting of Kirklees Council.
Ten-year-olds Hibaan Jat, Preeyah Sohal and Ismail Iqbal and nine-year-old Hasan Ali and his seven-year-old sister Summer are all on the school council.
Hibaan, Preeyah, Hasan and Summer all stood up at the Huddersfield Town Hall meeting to tell councillors of their concerns about speeding and nuisance or dangerous parking by parents and others.
Spring Grove school is between Water Street and Bow Street in Springwood – behind Huddersfield Leisure Centre – and Hibaan told councillors that traffic congestion was a “big problem” between 8.50am and 9am and 3.05pm and 3.20pm.
He warned someone could get hurt and added: “Our whole school community is in danger especially our children.”
The children presented councillors with evidence showing the problem and Hibaan said: “Cars are breaking the law, parking on the zig-zags as well as speeding.
“There are some photos taken that are in your packs showing how bad the parking is but sometimes it is worse than this. You can clearly see how badly some of the parents are parking on the zig-zags.
“What you can’t see in the photos is how fast some people are going down the road next to a school.
“The speed limit is 30mph but we know cars go faster and often come to a screeching stop in the middle of the road. It is very surprising – if not a miracle – that no one has yet been seriously injured if not worse.”
Hibaan said the school wanted a 20mph speed limit and added: “Our children would love to help design the new speed limit signs.”
Summer spoke next and asked councillors to help pay for traffic cones in the shape of children – which have proved to be effective – and also asked for faded yellow zig-zag lines to be re-painted.
Hasan, who has asthma, spoke about health issues that many children faced, made worse by traffic fumes.
“Currently we have 35 children in school with inhalers and one child suffering from chronic lung disease,” he said. “We have seen a steady rise in inhaler use in school over the last few years.
“We all know how pollution is for all children but especially those suffering with asthma. In a recent survey taken, 50% of parents said they would be interested in the idea of a walking bus.
“In Walk to School Week, which starts on May 17, we are going to trial a walking bus for the whole week.
“If successful we would like to have a walking bus for our very local pupils from September 2022. We would need to pay an adult to organise this – it would cost us £2,000 – so we wondered if there was some funding which we could apply for to help us with this.
“In addition, we would also like to plant more plants and trees around the school that are known to be good at dealing with pollution. Research has shown that birch and elder trees are the best types to help with this.”
Summing up Preeyah told councillors: “Our school budget has already been allocated for the next year on the vital necessities we need in school.
“Consequently, we would like you (the council) to help us in the following ways. Limit both streets to 20mph speed limit, put up signs and create speed bumps and re-paint zig-zags. Help us to create a walking bus and to put us in contact with funding partners that could help us further.
“As a school we believe in democracy and local government. The safety of our whole school community is of the upmost importance.”
In reply Clr Naheed Mather, Cabinet member for environment, was taken aback at the deputation from children so young and pledged to help.
She said children could help educate their parents about speeding and parking but the council was set to launch consultation about 20mph zones outside all schools. She described the walking bus idea as “amazing.”
Clr Mather thanked the children and said: “We will work with you to better understand the issues and to formulate a plan of action that will complete our objectives around safety, sustainability and active travel.
“We will be contacting the school directly to arrange a meeting to discuss these issues. I am delighted you have come here to present your deputation about an issue close to my heart.”
After the meeting the school’s deputy head Diane Mahon said she was really proud of the children for all the work they had put in.
“The children felt really listened to and felt they had a voice and had made a difference,” she added. “We want to show the children that democracy really means something.”