Driveway under fire
By PETER CATON
THE NSW Department of Education has been given a failure mark for not providing a safe entrance to a Tweed primary school.
Tweed Shire Council's traffic committee, which includes NSW Government Roads and Traffic Authority and police representatives as well as Tweed MP Neville Newell have asked the department to seal the gravel entrance of Duranbah Public School.
They also asked the department to cut back a dangerous embankment which blocks the vision of motorists.
But like a student who won't do homework, the department barely took any notice.
According to the council's traffic engineers "they have not taken action".
The issue was highlighted when complaints were received about the council's plans to use trucks with dog trailers to haul gravel along Duranbah Road past the school from its quarry at Eviron Road.
The complaints cited the need for safe access to and from the school, arguing that trucks were already going too fast and presenting a danger to students.
In August the council's then works manager Bob Missingham wrote to Mr Newell repeating the traffic committee's concerns and pointing out the driveway to the school did not conform to council rules.
In September the new works manager Ian Kite wrote to the Department of Education describing the driveway problem as a "potentially serious issue".
He asked the department to immediately undertake design and construction works necessary to provide a complying driveway.
"The poor design and location of this driveway and its lack of complying sight distance place students and teachers at the school at potential risk and is an obvious Occupational Health and Safety issue for the Department of Education," Mr Kite said.
At Wednesday's council meeting school principal Sandy Ellis told council administrators she would "definitely do my best to get some improvement", but feared more vehicles on Duranbah Road would not help.
Mr Kite said the plan for trailers would actually halve the number of trucks to and from the quarry.
The council's administrators deferred any decision pending traffic committee advice on reducing the 80km/h speed limit, although a special school zone of 40km/h also applies.
A spokesperson for Mr Newell said he had been seeking to have the department and the council jointly resolve the issue.
An Education Department spokesperson said an on-site meeting would be held with council officers to "assess the situation with the driveway, but until that meeting we are not in a position to know what the next step will be".
He said the department and the school community had objected to the use of Duranbah Road by large trucks "on safety grounds".