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Lichfield school criticises Staffordshire County Council’s decision not to grit “treacherous” road

The principal of a school in Lichfield has criticised councillors for refusing to grit a local road during the recent winter weather.

Students from Maple Hayes Dyslexia School in the snow

Students from Maple Hayes Dyslexia School in the snow

Maple Hayes Dyslexia School said Staffordshire County Council had refused to grit the first 150 yards of Abnalls Lane, which leads up to the school site.

School bosses said they were concerned at the council’s refusal to add the lane to its ‘extended treatment network’ of roads in the region.

Dr Neville Brown, principal and founder of Maple Hayes Dyslexia School, said: “In icy weather, our stretch of Abnalls Lane is one of, if not the most dangerous in the Lichfield area – and arguably the most dangerous encountered on the whole journey for each and every child.

“It is treacherous – there is a steep rise into the lane from the A51 and lots of puddles of water that have frozen over due to extreme temperatures.

“Up until two or three years ago, Abnalls Lane was always gritted but for some reason the council has stopped treating the road. We raise the matter with them every winter but nothing is done to make it safe for our pupils’ daily commute.

“It appears that the entrances to other schools in the county are still being gritted – even those that are within walking distance for pupils – yet Abnalls Lane has been neglected yet again.”

The ‘extended treatment network’ allows additional routes beyond A and B roads to be gritted in severe weather conditions.S

Dr Brown added: “We wrote to the council to ask if they could look to grit Abnalls Lane, considering how many pupils are transported to and from Maple Hayes by local authorities, but the response was that it simply would not be done because it doesn’t fall under either network according to their policy.

“It would be an absolute disgrace if a vulnerable child is involved in an accident because Staffordshire County Counci failed to grit this stretch of road.

“Something needs to change – and fast.”

Cllr Helen Fisher, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet support member for highways and transport, said the scale of the job across the county meant that every request for gritting could not be met.

“There are 6,000km of roads in Staffordshire and our fleet of 43 gritters covers a great deal of that network and people can also help each other by using our 4,000 grit bins,” Cllr Fisher said.
“Obviously the gritting helps road conditions in bad weather, but everyone must still take care, whether driving or walking.

“The responsibility whether to close a school on a given day due to poor weather conditions lies with the head teacher, who takes in a whole range of factors including the safety of the school’s own grounds and whether food, heating and including the state of local roads and paths, the availability of school and public transport and whether food, heating and lighting can be provided.”

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