“Please slow down” say Newent children

Primary school pupils in Newent have put pens to paper, in a bid to slow down motorists driving past their school.

An hour spent outside Picklenash Junior School with a speed gun and a police officer saw them handing out 24 ‘tickets’ to drivers exceeding the 30mph speed limit – and their experience has spurred them into action.

Now the students have designed posters they have put up on local roads urging motorists to cut their speed.

The Year 6 pupils have been part of the Junior Wardens scheme, which was launched in 2014 by Two Rivers Housing in conjunction with Forest of Dean Street Wardens, the Police and local primary schools. It is designed to make schoolchildren aware of the issues that can spoil the area where they live, and encourage them to take pride in their environment. This successful scheme currently involves six schools across the Forest of Dean.

One element of the Junior Warden programme is speed awareness and PCSO Joshua Griffiths took the opportunity to build on work he’d already been doing with the children on this topic, and joined them one morning to see how fast drivers were travelling on the B4421 past Picklenash School.

Those exceeding the limit were asked to stop and were handed a ticket designed by the children, asking them to slow down.

Now all drivers will be constantly reminded of the speed limit on that road by the three winners of a poster design competition who have seen Two Rivers Housing turn their creations into posters, and fastened on lampposts throughout the town.

Julie Burlow, Community Engagement Team Leader at Two Rivers, said: “The children always enjoy the session with the speed gun, and this particular group wanted to do something to get the message across on a more permanent basis.

“They produced some excellent posters and we have three strong designs that carry a very powerful reminder to everyone travelling along that road.”

Tony Larner, Head Teacher at Picklenash Junior School said: “Junior Wardens is a long-running partnership between Two Rivers Housing, Forest of Dean Street Wardens and the Police, and is an incredible way to get the children to understand their role in making their local community a better place to live.

“The project has been an opportunity to make a difference in an area they are passionate about and has been both incredibly fun and engaging. It is definitely something we feel is a valuable experience and will hope to continue year-on-year.”

Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Andrew Hodgetts said: “Speeding and motor-related ASB represent two of the Forest of Dean’s community-led policing priorities.

“By working with key partners and our young people we are aiming to create a future which makes the Forest of Dean safer and its communities even stronger. By engaging and involving the future generation of drivers, the project will help prepare young people to be safer drivers whilst also having a positive impact on existing road users”.

Cllr Mrs June Davies, Mayor of Newent, said: “I feel this is a very worthwhile project as it instils in children, at a very young age, the dangers of speeding, which hopefully will teach them to drive with care when they themselves are old enough to take to the road.

The posters made the pupils stop and think about the experience they had gained in working with the Police, and all hit home the poignant message”.