Bus stop move putting lives at risk, say parents

Isobel and Andrew Houston, Joanne Marshall, Shauneen King and son Aidan.  US1538-526cd  Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Isobel and Andrew Houston, Joanne Marshall, Shauneen King and son Aidan. US1538-526cd Picture: Cliff Donaldson

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Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson is planning to hold a meeting with the Education Authority Northern Ireland, in a bid to reverse its decision over a new bus stop off the Knockmore Road.

A number of concerned parents from Windermere, at Ballymacash, whose children attend Brookfield School say the new stop, close to the Supervalu shop, is not safe enough for their children as a pick-up and drop-off point.

The dispute over transport arrangements began when parents were told of the new arrangements in September.

Parents contacted the EANI but said their complaints have fallen on deaf ears. They asked if the stop could be moved closer to their homes at Windermere so their children can be picked up safely away from a busy road.

The children had previously been getting picked up and dropped off at the Supervalu car park but parents complained the area was too dangerous for children and had asked for it to be moved.

Now they say the new bus stop, just feet away from the previous stop, is not suitable either.

“All our children have different issues,” said one of the parents, Isobel Houston. “I drive down here from my home and once my child darted across the busy car park, where there are lorries and vans coming and going all the time. It was just sheer luck he was not knocked down.

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“It is not suitable in the car park or at the new stop either - which is only a few feet apart.

“We are not asking a lot. All I am asking is for a stop at Windermere. I am not asking the children be picked up at their doors, just away from busy traffic.”

Shauneen King said she was attempting to put her child onto the bus at the new bus stop when her active two year old ran from her along the busy road home.

“What could I do?” she said. “I was trying to get my child onto the bus and I could not drop one child to help another. It is just so unsafe here.”

Joanne Marshall, said she faces a 25 minute walk to the bus stop each morning.

“My child has difficulty walking so ordinarily it would take a few minutes to get to the bus stop but my child has a problem with her foot so we are both forced to walk
slowly.

“When it is cold and wet we get soaked. We are not asking a lot, just a stop that is closer to home and little one that is a bit safer.”

Mr Donaldson said he was aware of the concerns.

“We have been told of the concerns of these parents who have children attending Brookfield School that provides special education needs,” he said

“These children are at an age when they need more supervision so they are kept away from danger and harm and every day, parents face real challenges.

“All children have a right to be dropped off at a safer place so we are happy to hold a meeting with the EANI to see if they can provide a safer alternative for these children.”