Breaking their silence for the first time since Joseph Ball died last year, highways experts at Southend Council warned a campaign to improve safety could actually have the opposite effect.
Not that that will worry the ‘Something must be done, this is something, so do it!’ crowd.
The tragedy prompted more than 10,000 people to sign a petition calling for improvements.
Those ‘improvements’ being, specifically, a crossing on the London Road where the child was run down.
This is the junction where it happened:
There’s no crossing right there, but there is a crossing a few yards away. However, the cause of the accident wasn’t the lack of a crossing at all.
So it’s rather baffling why 10,000 people signed a petition to get one put in…
In the wake of Joseph’s death, council chiefs promised a full investigationinto whether additional safety measures were needed at the accident site.Their new report, which will be discussed by councillors next week, is the culmination of that process.
Although no firm recommendations are made in the document, bosses set out the case against a new crossing.
Statistics show that, on average, crossings generate nearly one incident every year as drivers try to beat traffic lights and pedestrians become careless.
That means, unless a targeted site already has a serious history of problems, it theoretically increases the chances of an accident if a crossing is installed.
And this particular junction only has five incidents. Which, frankly, while they might be tragedies for those involved, surely don’t justify the outlay.
Other options put forward by council chiefs include holding special classes with pupils at Joseph’s primary school, Milton Hall, to teach them about road safety, and installing fresh safety signs in London Road.
If the death of their classmate doesn’t teach them anything, I’m not sure there’s anything more teachers can do.
And isn’t that supposed to be the responsibility of the parents, anyway?
There is, however, one person with their head in the right place:
However, even with such measures, Tony Cox, the Tory councillor responsible for transport, pointed out Joseph could still have died.He said: “We have to remember this tragedy was caused by a man who was speeding, unlicensed and should not have been on the road.
“Nothing we do can mitigate for that.”
Well, quite! A petition to get the penalties for this sort of crime stiffened up would at least be addressing the major problem, though it would never prevent it from ever happening.
But a petition to get a crossing installed is lunacy.
Update: The petition was rejected. And the ‘we must do something!’ attitude is in full spate:
Tory Southend councillor Adam Jones spoke out after colleagues from all parties decided a pedestrian crossing was not justified at the spot in Westcliff where Joseph Ball was killed…Mr Jones argued the weight of public feeling should not have been dismissed so easily.He said: “It is clearly an emotive issue and I do not think we should act too fast on this.
“Would a red light have stopped this biker? We’ll never know, but it is a debate worth having.”