Traffic light loan plan is given the red light

Ashlyns School students cross a dangerous junction in Berkhamsted
Ashlyns School students cross a dangerous junction in Berkhamsted

A plan to borrow £300,000 to pay for traffic lights at a dangerous junction has been shot down by political leaders.

The proposal was put forward by Berkhamsted Town Councillor Danny Bonnett at a meeting of the authority’s transport and environment committee on Monday.

The traffic lights would be installed at the junction of Shootersway, Kings Road and Kingshill Way to help children get safely to and from nearby Ashlyns School.

Herts County Council had tried to recruit a lollipop person for the crossing after pressure from parents who thought their children were being put at risk.

The problem arose when Ashlyns switched from being an upper to a secondary school in September, accepting younger pupils in Years 7 and 8. It was feared that they would not be as aware of fast traffic using the busy junction.

But nobody came forward for the lollipop person’s job – probably because of other commitments and the low pay of £6.50 per hour.

Lib Dem councillor Mr Bonnett suggested traffic lights for the junction could be bought by the town council with money from the Public Works Loan Board.

But its transport and environment committee heard that the loan would take 15 years to repay at a cost of almost £400,000. This would have to be funded by an increase in council tax.

But committee chairman Tom Ritchie said Herts County Council is the authority that is responsible for this kind of expenditure. He said: “Berkhamsted residents have already fully paid their council taxes – most of which went to Herts County Council.”

Mr Richie’s committee – made up of one Lib Dem and five Tory councillors – voted against Mr Bonnett’s proposal.

The committee instead ruled that Berkhamsted Town and Herts County Councils should meet urgently to discuss the junction.

Mr Ritchie said that it was the county council that made Ashlyns a secondary school, so it should be that authority that improves the road infrastructure around it.

He said: “We do not mind if they are short of a few bob, topping it up for the lollipop person’s salary.

“But we have not got £300,000 and we are not allowed to have that, because that would be one and a half times our annual income.”

Ashlyns School governor Pam Fensome also spoke out at Monday’s meeting.

She said: “Kingshill Way is a busy road, used by cars going to and from the A41 bypass. Some drivers who may not know this is a school crossing point.”