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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Kids walking to school ‘take their lives in their hands’, parent says

There has been more criticism of the pavements in Holmes Chapel as people try and follow the move to active travel.

As we reported last week, Karoline Peach, a parent and member of Holmes Chapel Partnership, complained that many parents in the village felt that walking to school from the new developments was not safe.

Speaking during walk to school week, she told the Chronicle: “We sent a matrix document to Cheshire East Council at the beginning of this year, and the parish council is still awaiting a response. Holmes Chapel, it seems, is not a priority area.

“We hope that by bringing together residents, our councillors and school teachers, that our message gets through to Cheshire East that people working and living in Holmes Chapel want safer walking routes for all.”

Now a second young mother has said that parents are taking their “lives in our hands” every time they walk their children to school from some new housing developments in the village.

Elizabeth Alcock, who lives on the Saltersford Gardens estate opposite Manor Lane, said in a social media post there had been no forward-thinking by Cheshire East Council to ensure developers provided residents in the area with a safe walking route to the village.

Her children Ben, (6), and Joshua, (3), attend Hermitage Primary School and Happy Days in the village.

She and her husband, Pete, who grew up in Holmes Chapel, have lived in the village for three years.

Writing during the Holmes Chapel annual walk-to-school week, she said that when they moved to Saltersford Gardens she “naively” did not realise “how awful” it would be for pedestrians with such narrow pavements.

She said she could not even walk side by side with her boys with cars flying past right next to them, some at over 40mph.

“Yes, I should have checked before we moved but I genuinely didn’t even consider that it would be a problem,” she said.

“There is no support from Cheshire East despite all the extra council tax and business revenue it is getting from this, now developed, Manor Lane side of the village, and it has no plans to do anything.”

She added: “This week is walk-to-school-week. I would love for my boys to be able to have a safe walk to school every day and be able to go on their bikes and scooters whenever they like, but at the moment it is just not safe enough for them and I am anxious every day we walk to school.”

Calling on residents for support, Mrs Alcock said she and other volunteers were starting Speedwatch training with the local PCSO (community police) and had been told by Cheshire East Council there was no issue with speeding on Macclesfield Road.

“I am apprehensive about doing this as I know it might have a negative reaction from many people. Please drive safely through our village and don’t be cross at us for doing this, we are all just trying to make our village safer for everyone, especially our children,” she said.

“In the meantime, we take our lives in our hands every time we walk our children to school.”

For walk to school week, Ben and Joshua dressed as Superheroes to walk to school, to highlight the number of children in the village who had difficult journeys to make to school every day.

Mrs Alcock said: “I know that many more people would walk to school if it was safer for their children.”

Speaking during the walk to school, Lauren Brown, deputy head teacher at Holmes Chapel Primary School, told the Chronicle: “Exercise is such an important thing for children, and some children are being excluded from that due to the safety of the roads.

“Because it’s an old village the roads aren’t particularly safe, and with all the new houses and the village growing they are becoming more dangerous.”

Parent Lisa Sparkes, (37), whose son Harry attends Holmes Chapel Primary School, said she was worried for her children’s safety when HGVs “hurtled” past the pavements.

“The pavements are really narrow and with two of them it’s quite a hairy walk. I just wouldn’t trust them by the pavements because they are so narrow, and the trucks hurtle over these bridges.”

Coun Diane Tams, vice chair of Holmes Chapel Parish Council, also joined in last Wednesday’s walk to school.

She said: “We’ve had a number of concerned parents contact us – the roads are not particularly safe. This road is so narrow, the pavements are quite narrow too and when the HGVs come past it’s not too safe.”

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