A crossing too far

AN intense campaign over a school crossing will see a Woolgoolga parent facing Coffs Harbour Local Court on Tuesday.

Woolgoolga Police have made an application to take out an apprehended violence order on Woolgoolga Public School parent James Hand, who has been campaigning about the school crossing in Scarborough Street since last year.

Sgt Greg Peronchik of Woolgoolga Police said Mr Hand's behaviour in the vicinity of the crossing contributed to the danger of the location and amounted to harassment of those around it, so police had applied for the AVO on behalf of the school principal, Kevin Cross.

Sgt Peronchik said this was intended to keep Mr Hand 'a safe distance' from the school and away from the crossing.

Mr Hand, who denies that he has exceeded the bounds of acceptable behaviour in 'remonstrating' with school staff or parents, said he was passionate about the safety of children on the hillside crossing.

He said last year a child who broke away from a group besides the crossing had been rescued from the path of a vehicle only by the heroic actions of a teacher, who stepped in front of a bus to grab the child by her hair and pull her to safety.

Mr Hand wants a Roads and Traffic Authority crossing supervisor on duty on school mornings and afternoons and is unhappy with the present system, where the crossing is unsupervised in the morning and voluntarily supervised by two teachers in the afternoons.

He said teachers waved buses through the crossing while they were gathering children into groups to cross the street, which was contrary to RTA rules, which say vehicles must stop if pedestrians are waiting to cross.

The issue of the crossing first became public in February when Woolgoolga Public School principal Kevin Cross said the matter had been raised with the police, who supported the school teachers' methods.

"We feel we are doing the best we possibly can at a potentially dangerous site," Mr Cross said yesterday.

Mr Cross said he supported Mr Hand's campaign for better safety and the school's P&C had sent out letters to parents, who had sent letters to the RTA.

But he said the school had been unable to qualify for a supervisor when a count was done late in June.

"The RTA sent a person out to count the pupils and the traffic we have enough pupils but not enough cars for a lollipop person," Mr Cross said.

Crossing supervisors are appointed and paid by the RTA and school volunteers are no longer permitted to do the job.

"My advice to teachers is not to direct traffic," said Coffs Harbour City Council road safety officer Anne Shearer.

"If the flags are out the traffic should stop.

"The children should be the parents' responsibility outside the school fence."

Scarborough Street is a council road, but crossing supervisors are appointed and selected by the RTA.

The operations manager of Ryan's Bus Service, Nigel Tooth, said the crossing was not ideal and he had suggested the school move it further up the street after Mr Hand had raised his concerns.



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