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Newmarket headteacher Sue Blakeley pleads for road improvements outside St Louis Catholic Academy

A Newmarket headteacher has spoken of her concern for the safety of children as they arrive at school each morning.

In an email to Suffolk County Council officials and councillors as well as other local organisations including The Jockey Club, Sue Blakeley, head of St Louis Catholic Academy, has outlined a list of the dangers parents and children face every day.

“For more than four years I have been raising concerns on behalf of St Louis governors about the safety of the 320 children aged three to 11 years arriving in school daily and increasingly I am also facing representations from parents,” said Mrs Blakeley, who has asked for the council to address the school’s concerns as a priority.

St Louis Catholic Academy in Newmarket. Picture: Google Maps
St Louis Catholic Academy in Newmarket. Picture: Google Maps

The school sits on the busy intersection between Fordham Road and Rayes Lane, immediately opposite Fairstead House school where parents are also dropping children off in the mornings.

Racehorses crossing over Fordham Road from The Severals to the Rayes Lane horse walk and back add to the morning congestion.

In Rayes Lane, she said, parking presented a risk to both children and horses while the barriers separating riders and pedestrians were ineffective.

The busy intersection between Fordham Road and Rayes Lane. Picture: Google Maps
The busy intersection between Fordham Road and Rayes Lane. Picture: Google Maps

Mrs Blakeley added: “The ongoing cleanliness and condition of the road surface is such that deep holes filled with horse excrement lead to children arriving at school with faeces on their feet and legs.”

She said that unlike the existing barriers on the Fairstead House side of Fordham Road, there were none outside the entrance to St Louis, leaving families dangerously close to traffic at what she refers to as ‘pinch points’.

Mrs Blakeley also complained that the school got no notification of roadworks in the area which significantly impacted upon families attempting to get children into school.

She added: “I understand that there are long-standing plans to install a horse crossing at the intersection of Rayes Lane and Fordham Road. This work must be programmed during school holidays or it will cause further chaos to the existing mix of multiple difficulties.”

County councillor Andy Drummond said that he and Cllr Rachel Hood had stepped in with money from their locality budgets to help provide new post and rail fencing in Rayes Lane and there had also been a contribution from The Jockey Club.

In a statement, Suffolk County Council said: “Parking restrictions are in place along Rayes Lane, including bollards to prevent through traffic. West Suffolk Council is responsible for enforcing these restrictions as well as street sweeping to ensure the paths are clear.”

They said that where possible, the council notified businesses and residents of upcoming road works, adding that plans were being finalised to replace the railings along Rayes Lane to improve safety for pedestrians and this should be completed in June.

However, they said the footway at the entrance to the school was too narrow for railings as it will restrict access, but funding had been made available to complete developer-led improvements which included safety rails as part of the horse/pedestrian crossing.

“Whilst no timescales have yet been agreed, every effort will be made to complete the work overnight to reduce disruption to the school, horses and travelling public.”