A statement was given at tonight’s Full Council meeting about the tragic death of a local schoolgirl in Shaw.
Annalise Holt, 12, was fatally injured following a collision with a van in the incident on Milnrow Road, Shaw, at about 4.30pm on December 17.
Full Council observed a minutes silence as a mark of respect at the start of proceedings.
Councillor Dave Hibbert, Cabinet Member for Environment and Housing, then gave the following statement to the Council Chamber:
I am sure that everyone here tonight in the Council Chamber and people from across our Borough are united in a sense of sadness and shock after hearing news of yesterdays tragic events, he said.
We have had a number of public questions submitted for our Question Time event this evening about this tragedy and that is only right because we all want information and answers.
Firstly, I want to pay tribute to the emergency services who responded to last nights incident in a typically professional manner and did all they could to assist.
At present we are now assisting the police investigation which aims to find out exactly what happened. That means we are somewhat restricted in what we can say because we must take very great care not to prejudice the outcome of that investigation in any way.
There have been some misleading reports about the crossing site which I would like to correct. Some of the data that has been quoted in relation to accident figures does not refer to this site at all. They refer to a stretch of Milnrow Road (A663) running north towards Milnrow.
Our records at this crossing site since 1999 show that prior to yesterday there have been three incidents in 14 years. Two of these simply involved shunting where one vehicle has gone into the back of another giving way to pedestrians.
The other case was the tragic incident in January 2012 when Lynn Steele was one of two pedestrians hit by a car and subsequently died.
The police report into that accident stated that the glare of the sun low in the winter sky was a contributing factor in this incident not the condition of the highway or the crossing. We understand the Coroner held an inquest in late-October but the Council was not called as an interested party and nor has the Coroners report been released to us.
Some reports have also speculated that the lack of a school crossing patrol may have been a contributory factor in yesterdays incident. It is true that this crossing used to have a patrol for two local primary schools, but at the time of day when this incident happened the patrol would not, in any case, have still been on duty given that they finish at around 4pm.
We fully recognise that a petition that has been launched by the public asking the Council to consider replacing the zebra crossing with a pelican crossing and we understand the concerns being raised.
This site is eligible for either a zebra, pelican or puffin crossing. Although we are still far from a conclusion to the police investigation, what I will say is that we will consider this in consultation with the local community when we have the full facts before us. We are certainly not dismissing this request, but the existing zebra crossing does meet all our highway safety obligations.
That is as much as we can say at this stage without prejudicing the ongoing investigation. We all have a duty to allow that to proceed in a fair and responsible manner.
In that context I have tried to address as many of the questions submitted to us as possible by the public as we can but we must now wait for the police to report their findings to us.
I pledge to continue to liaise with local Ward Members, who have raised this issue as a matter of urgency, as we get more information in the coming days. The Council is also supporting Royton and Crompton school in their efforts to deal with these tragic events.
I will issue a further public update on this matter as quickly as I am able to do so.
Finally, I would again like to express my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Annalise Holt, and also to wish her school friend a full recovery.
I know I speak for the whole Council Chamber when I say that they are all in our thoughts.