Speed limit plea after crash debris lands in grounds of Magherafelt primary school

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A south Derry primary has pledged to continue its 16-year campaign to get the authorities to cut the speed limit outside the school gates from 60mph to 30mph.

Spires Integrated on Magherafelt’s busy Moneymore Road has described a TransportNI move to reduce the limit to 50mph as “unacceptable.”

The Moneymore Road at Spires Primary School in Magherafelt

The Moneymore Road at Spires Primary School in Magherafelt

Fears were raised after a car bumper along with personal items were catapulted over the fence into school grounds following a recent crash in which two people had to be cut from a vehicle.

Principal Joan Bell said several of their parents refuse to walk along the Moneymore Road, or permit their children to do so due to the speed of the traffic.

“Cars accelerate as soon as they reach the 30mph sign at the entrance to Coolshinney and data from a DRD survey carried out in January/February 2015 indicates a number of cars are even exceeding the 60mph speed limit going past the school,” said Mrs Bell.

“Indeed there have been a few near misses when cars are exiting the school and turning right towards the town, they have been faced with traffic on their side of the road that are overtaking.”

At the school we find this unacceptable - will 50mph make the life of a pupil at Spires Integrated any safer?” continued.

Spires School is a few hundred metres from where a roundabout will be built as part of the new bypass. The school believes the 30mph limit should be extended out to the roundabout at Coolshinney Road junction, as the area has become increasingly residential.

Last December talks took place involving the DRD and local politicians and, according to the principal, it was implied further accidents would have to take place before action would be taken on the speed limit. Following the meeting the DRD agreed to reduce the limit to 50mph.

“At the school we find this unacceptable - will 50mph make the life of a pupil at Spires Integrated any safer?” continued. With 200 pupils, 25 staff and three different drop off and collection times daily, can 50mph really offer adequate protection?”

Mrs Bell said the pupils of Spires IPS are disadvantaged as the only school pupils in Magherafelt whose school does not sit within a 30mph speed zone. “Sadly it is often the case that it takes a tragedy before people take notice,” she went on. “We ask them to please act now to protect our children. Sure it is better to be proactive that reactive.”

A TransportNI spokesperson said: “The school benefits from ‘Safer Routes to School’ flashing warning signs on both approaches. The site also has off road car parking, a designated drive through set down area and a dedicated right turn lane. A footway/cycle track is available for those wishing to walk or cycle to school.”

He added that the speed limits would be reviewed following the operation of the new bypass.